The spectrum of earthshine: A pale blue dot observed from the ground

N. J. Woolf, P. S. Smith, W. A. Traub, K. W. Jucks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

155 Scopus citations


We report the visible reflection spectrum of the integrated Earth, illuminated as it would be seen as a spatially unresolved extrasolar planet. The spectrum was derived from observation of lunar earthshine in the range 4800-9200 Å at a spectral resolution of about 600. We observe absorption features of ozone, molecular oxygen, and water. We see enhanced reflectivity at short wavelengths from Rayleigh scattering and apparently negligible contributions from aerosol and ocean water scattering. We also see enhanced reflectivity at long wavelengths starting at about 7300 Å, corresponding to the well-known red reflectivity edge of vegetation because of its chlorophyll content; however, this signal is not conclusive because of the breakdown of our simple model at wavelengths beyond 7900 Å.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)430-433
Number of pages4
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Jul 20 2002


  • Astrobiology
  • Earth
  • Moon
  • Planetary systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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