The International Space Station (ISS) on January 24 shared breathtaking images of Earth’s aurora, often referred to as polar lights, northern lights or southern lights as they are seen in high-altitude regions. Orbiting at 400 kilometres above Earth, the ISS already has an upper-hand in capturing the natural lights in a more ‘awe-inspiring’ manner than the professionals who live on the planet and travel to polar regions to photograph the Auroras. The natural light display in Earth’s sky is the result of the disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by the solar wind.
Taking to Instagram, ISS wrote, “The space station's orbit takes it as high 51.6 degrees above the equator offering awe-inspiring views of the Earth's aurora in between the city lights and the twinkling stars” while also sharing four different images of the auroras above the planet. Northern lights are visible from nations closer to the Arctic Circle or the North Pole and the best places to do the same are Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Finland.
Meanwhile, NASA shared an update about the fascinating aurora-like phenomenon that depicted the purple ribbon of lights in the sky known as STEVE, or Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. Taking to its official handle on Twitter, NASA thanked the citizen scientists from around the globe, as it informed that a new discovery was made related to the mysterious phenomenon STEVE.
It further explained that the phenomenon involved a vibrant ribbon of light that formed an arc in the night sky. Explaining further in a release, NASA said that the scientists have found that STEVE is not a normal aurora, or maybe it’s not an aurora at all. “A new finding of the formation of streaks within the structure brings scientists one step closer to solving the mystery,” NASA revealed.
In a paper for AGU Advances, the citizen scientists shared new findings of the mysterious purple light formation, with a green picket fence structure underneath, saying, that the streaks could be “moving points of light, elongated in the images due to blur from the cameras”. According to the new findings, the “tiny little streaks” that were previously thought of as auroras are an optical phenomenon created due to the extreme ion drift speeds.
🔵 STEVE 🔵— NASA (@NASA) November 18, 2020
Thanks to aurora-chasing citizen scientists from around the globe, a new discovery has been made about the mysterious phenomenon STEVE — a glowing ribbon of vibrant light in our night sky we can't stop gawking at: https://t.co/UExEiI4VAt pic.twitter.com/GbgLvY52zh
The International Space Station (ISS) shared breathtaking images of Earth’s aurora, often referred as polar lights as they are seen in high-altitude regions.
ISS shares breathtaking images of Earth's Aurora between city lights, stars