Russian Astro and Geophysics satellite named after 18th-century scientists Mikhail Lomonosov, also known as MVL-300, has reportedly detected a previously unknown physical phenomenon in the Earth's atmosphere.
This space-based observatory was launched in 2016 in an effort to study cosmic rays in the high-energy regime near the energetic spectrum cutoff, examine the characteristics of gamma-ray bursts in the universe, study Transient Luminous Effects in Earth’s atmosphere, and study Earth’s magnetosphere and near-Earth radiation environment using different detector systems.
According to Mikhail Panasyuk, the director of the Research Institute of Nuclear Physics at the Moscow State University who runs the Lomonosov Project, the observatory has encountered new physical phenomena.
On several occasions, Lomonosov has detected very powerful 'explosions' of light, Panasyuk said. However, everything underneath them was clear.
"There were no storms and no clouds underneath them," Panasyuk said. "We do not yet know their physical nature."
It is due to this absence of storms and clouds beneath why scientists believe this is previously undiscovered phenomena as other transient luminous events like sprites and elves all emanate from storms below.
Scientists have also eliminated ground explosions and missile/rocket launches as the cause of the phenomenon and are still analyzing the events.
It should be noted that this new physical phenomenon, or whatever these explosions of light are, was detected prior to June 30, 2018, when it was published that the satellite had suffered a malfunction in its data transmission system. As of 2019, the status of the satellite remains unknown.
Featured image: Lomonosov satellite