NASA satellite image shows holes in the sky near Florida

Cavity clouds are a strange phenomenon that has been confused with flying saucers.
NASA Earth Observatory image by Michala Garrison, using MODIS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCE and GIBS/Worldview

  • A NASA satellite captured an image of giant ring-shaped clouds over the Gulf of Mexico.
  • You can see this phenomenon, called subterranean clouds, from Earth and in space.
  • Cavum clouds have a natural explanation but have been confused with aliens and other strange phenomena.

Earlier this year, NASA's Terra satellite was cruising over the Gulf of Mexico when one of its instruments captured an image of some strange-looking clouds.

The clouds looked like someone had taken a hole into the sky.

This unusual phenomenon is not new. Researchers have documented this since the 1940s, according to NASA. But scientists did not find an explanation for this until about 15 years ago.

These features are officially called hollow clouds, but are sometimes called hole clouds or drop holes. They are so large that you can see them from Earth and in space.

From Earth they could look like this:

Kavum cloud as seen from Earth.
pr2is/Getty Images

It's no wonder people have mistaken them for flying saucers or other unusual phenomena. It doesn't look like your average cloud.

In fact, it's not your average cloud. Without human technology, subterranean clouds would never exist.

They form when planes fly through clusters of altocumulus clouds — clouds made up of supercooled droplets — according to a pair of published studies. In 2010 And 2011.

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Researchers from NASA's Langley Research Center discovered it in 2010 The shallower the angle the plane takes to pass through the clouds, the larger the residual cavity.

The analysis showed that any type of aircraft can produce hollow clouds.

NASA's Terra satellite captured images of a “cluster” of hollow clouds near the west coast of Florida on January 30. More than 1,000 flights a day arriving from Miami International Airport are a major contributor to this phenomenon, according to the agency.

The Terra satellite was designed To study changes in the Earth's atmosphere and the effects of climate change. Researchers use data collected from the satellite to map the impact of human activity and natural disasters.

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