Atmospheric optical emission measurements by the Visible Aircilow Experiment (VAE) on board the Atmosphere Explorer (AE-C, D and E) satellites have been analyzed and found to be contaminated at low altitudes. The contamination maximizes in the forward direction along the spacecraft velocity and is sensitive to the composition and density of the ambient atmosphere. Analysis at two different wavelengths suggests that the contamination is likely to have a diffuse band spectrum which is brighter toward the red. Some unknown processes which involve satellite surface materials and the incoming ambient particles are believed to be responsible for the contamination. A simulation model is presented here to account for the observed angular dependence.