One of my wishes is to see an aurora – the most beautiful natural phenomena on earth, a light show in the sky.
But while I plan a trip to the Nordic countries, the European Space Agency (ESA) has delivered the next best thing: an aurora from above.
The research payload e-POP, now part of the Swarm space weather exploration mission, captured black-and-white shots of a polar light in 2013. The one-minute video, published last month on the ESA website, shows magnificent waves of light float above the clouds.
Auroras, as described by Space.com, arise when charged particles from the Sun interact with gas molecules in the Earth's atmosphere; "Excited" molecules emit a glow ̵
In northern latitudes the effect is known as Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights (a term coined by Galileo in 1619); its southern counterpart, visible from high latitudes in the Antarctic, parts of South America and Australia, is referred to as Aurora australis or Southern Lights.
Although it looks dazzling (I imagine), Northern Lights can also show scientists a lot about space weather: Intense solar activity can damage infrastructure such as power lines and satellites.
The Swarm Satellite ESA Trio has collected such information since 2013; The latest addition to CASSIOPE's E-POP satellite, however, is aimed at shedding additional light on features such as the Aurora Borealis
"We are taking advantage of the opportunity to include e-POP in the Swarm mission," explains Josef Aschbacher. ESA Director of Earth Observation Programs, said in a statement. "Especially because it's clear that the more data we get, the better the picture of complex space weather dynamics."
"Together, they will further enhance our understanding of the magnetic field and the role of the Earth in shielding Canada and Canada from the effects of space weather," said John Manuel, senior program scientist at the Canadian Space Agency.
This collaboration could mean even more of the world to astronauts who are no longer in the lab – if not laboratory analysts
"Integrating e-POP into the Swarm constellation will make the international scientific community a multitude of new ones Scientific research, "said Professor Andrew Yau of the University of Calgary and predicted new data on the Earth's magnetic field and associated flow systems, dynamics of the upper atmosphere and Auroradynamics.
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