Jump to content

Solar storm stirs stunning aurora


Recommended Posts

Solar_storm_stirs_stunning_aurora_card_f Video: 00:00:29

After the Sun ejected a violent mass of fast-moving plasma into space on 9 October, ESA waited for the storm to strike. A few days later, the coronal mass ejection (CME) arrived at Earth, crashing into our planet’s magnetosphere, and lighting up the sky.

CMEs explode from the Sun, rush through the Solar System and while doing so speed up the solar wind – a stream of charged particles continuously released from the Sun’s upper atmosphere.

While most of the solar wind is blocked by Earth’s protective magnetosphere, some charged particles become trapped in Earth’s magnetic field and flow down to the geomagnetic poles, colliding with the upper atmosphere to create the beautiful Aurora.

A marbled sky

This stunning video was created from images taken every minute during this recent period of intense auroral activity in the early hours of 12 October, by an all-sky camera in Kiruna, Sweden – part of ESA’s Space Weather Service Network. The goal of such cameras is to view as much as the sky as possible, so they are fitted with a 'fish-eye' lens to see horizon to horizon when pointed straight up.

The video, running in half-speed to accentuate the beautiful auroral motion, starts with a mass of green, swirling structures, created when energetic particles in the solar wind collide with oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere, which then, ‘excited’ gives off light in the green range of the electromagnetic spectrum. This typically occurs at around 120 – 180 kilometres from Earth’s surface.

As we humans have evolved to be very adept at seeing different shades of green, it’s the most predominant colour we see. Harder to see is the purple aurora seen later in the video, this time created as energetic particles strike ‘ionic’ nitrogen in Earth’s atmosphere.

Not just beautiful, such observations are vital to understanding the complex, and sometimes hazardous interactions between the Sun and Earth.

“What I love about this video is the chance to see this beautiful, purple aurora, more clearly visible during intense geomagnetic storms” explains Hannah Laurens, RHEA Space Weather Applications Scientist based at ESOC.

“The movement of this swirly structure in space and time is often referred to as auroral dynamics, and this is very important when studying the relationship between the ionosphere and magnetosphere, linked by lines of magnetic field. The aurora is a manifestation of complex drivers operating in the distant magnetosphere which makes it a useful, and beautiful, tool with which to monitor space weather conditions”.

A beautiful side of something more troubling

The all-sky auroral camera is operated by the Kiruna Atmospheric and Geophysical Observatory (KAGO) within the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF), and data from here is provided as part of the ESA’s network of space weather services within the Agency’s Space Safety Programme.

This is the first auroral display captured by the instrument following its integration into the ESA Space Weather Portal, which provides timely information to anyone affected by the Sun’s outbursts – from airline pilots, to operators of spacecraft and power grids, or even hopeful aurora hunters.

While humans on Earth are protected by Earth’s magnetic field, Space Weather can have an extreme and disruptive impact on satellites in orbit and infrastructure on Earth, and ultimately our society. For this reason, ESA’s Space Weather Service Network continues to monitor our star and the conditions around Earth, to provide information to keep our systems safe.

In 2027, ESA will launch a first-of-its kind mission to monitor the Sun from a unique vantage point. Studying our star from the side, it will provide a stream of data that will warn of potentially hazardous regions before they roll into view from Earth.

Find out more about Space Weather, and sign up for free updates from ESA’s Space Weather Service Network.

Credit: All-sky camera, Kiruna Atmospheric and Geophysical Observatory (KAGO) within the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF). Data provided as part of ESA’s Space Weather Service Network.

View the full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Topics

    • By European Space Agency
      Launched in December 2013, ESA’s Gaia spacecraft is on a mission to map the locations and motions of more than a billion stars in the Milky Way with extreme precision.
      But it’s not easy being a satellite: space is a dangerous place. In recent months, hyper-velocity space dust and the strongest solar storm in 20 years have threatened Gaia’s ability to carry out the precise measurements for which it is famous.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      3 min read
      NASA Mission to Study Mysteries in the Origin of Solar Radio Waves
      NASA’s CubeSat Radio Interferometry Experiment, or CURIE, is scheduled to launch July 9, 2024, to investigate the unresolved origins of radio waves coming from the Sun.
      CURIE will investigate where solar radio waves originate in coronal mass ejections, like this one seen in 304- and 171-angstrom wavelengths by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientists first noticed these radio waves decades ago, and over the years they’ve determined the radio waves come from solar flares and giant eruptions on the Sun called coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, which are a key driver of space weather that can impact satellite communications and technology at Earth. But no one knows where the radio waves originate within a CME.
      The CURIE mission aims to advance our understanding using a technique called low frequency radio interferometry, which has never been used in space before. This technique relies on CURIE’s two independent spacecraft — together no bigger than a shoebox — that will orbit Earth about two miles apart. This separation allows CURIE’s instruments to measure tiny differences in the arrival time of radio waves, which enables them to determine exactly where the radio waves came from.
      “This is a very ambitious and very exciting mission,” said Principal Investigator David Sundkvist, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. “This is the first time that someone is ever flying a radio interferometer in space in a controlled way, and so it’s a pathfinder for radio astronomy in general.”
      CURIE team members work on integrating the satellites into the CubeSat deployer. ExoLaunch The spacecraft, designed by a team from UC Berkeley, will measure radio waves ranging 0.1 to 19 megahertz to pinpoint the radio waves’ solar origin. These wavelengths are blocked by Earth’s upper atmosphere, so this research can only be done from space.
      CURIE will launch aboard an ESA (European Space Agency) Ariane 6 rocket in early July from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana. The rocket will take CURIE to 360 miles above Earth’s surface, where it can get a clear view of the Sun’s radio waves.
      Once in its circular orbit, the two adjoined CURIE spacecraft will establish communication with ground stations before orienting and separating. When the separated satellites are in formation, their dual eight-foot antennas will deploy and start collecting data.
      CURIE is sponsored by NASA’s Heliophysics Flight Opportunities for Research and Technology (H-FORT) Program and is the sole mission manifested on the NASA CubeSat Launch Initiative’s ELaNa (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) 43 mission. As a pathfinder, CURIE will demonstrate a proof-of-concept for space-based radio interferometry in the CubeSat form factor. CURIE will also pave the way for the upcoming Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment, or SunRISE, mission. SunRISE will employ six CubeSats to map the region where the solar radio waves originate in 2-D.
      By Mara Johnson-Groh
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      Share








      Details
      Last Updated Jul 08, 2024 Editor Abbey Interrante Related Terms
      CubeSat Launch Initiative CubeSats ELaNa (Educational Launch of Nanosatellites) Goddard Space Flight Center Heliophysics Heliophysics Division Heliophysics Research Program Science Mission Directorate Small Satellite Missions SunRISE (Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment) The Sun The Sun & Solar Physics Explore More
      5 min read First of NASA’s SunRISE SmallSats Rolls Off Production Line
      Six of these small satellites will work together, creating the largest radio telescope ever launched…


      Article


      2 years ago
      Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
      Missions



      Humans in Space



      Climate Change



      Solar System


      View the full article
    • By NASA
      To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video
      A detailed 3D animation of NASA's Gateway space station, showcasing its modules and structural components from various angles against the backdrop of deep space.NASA/Bradley Reynolds, Alberto Bertolin NASA and its international partners will explore the scientific mysteries of deep space with Gateway, humanity’s first space station to orbit the Moon. Starting with the Artemis IV mission in 2028, the international teams of astronauts living, conducting science, and preparing for missions to the lunar South Pole region on Gateway will be the first humans to make their home in deep space.
      This artist’s computer-generated animation presents an exterior tour of Gateway in stunning detail. Depicted Gateway elements are the:
      Power and Propulsion Element that will make Gateway the most powerful solar electric spacecraft ever flown. The module will use the Sun’s energy to power the space station’s subsystems and ionize xenon gas to produce the thrust that will maintain Gateway’s unique polar orbit around the Moon. HALO (Habitation and Logistics Outpost), Gateway’s command and control nexus providing communications between Earth and the lunar surface with the Lunar Link system provided by ESA (European Space Agency). HALO will house life support systems, including exercise equipment, and science payload banks. Lunar I-Hab, provided by ESA with hardware contributions from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), will host environmental control and life support systems, sleeping quarters, and a galley, among other features. Lunar View, provided by ESA, will have refueling capabilities for the Power and Propulsion Element, cargo storage, and large windows. Crew and Science Airlock, provided by the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre of the United Arab Emirates, for crew and hardware transfer from Gateway’s interior to the vacuum of space. Canadarm3 advanced external robotic system provided by CSA (Canadian Space Agency). Deep Space Logistics spacecraft that will transport cargo to Gateway to support Artemis missions. Initial Gateway science payloads that will study solar and cosmic radiation, a little-understood phenomenon that is a chief concern for people and hardware traveling through deep space, including Mars. The payloads visible in this video are ERSA (European Radiation Sensors Array), provided by ESA, attached to the Power and Propulsion Element, and the NASA-led HERMES (Heliophysics Environmental and Radiation Measurement Experiment Suite) is attached to HALO. A third radiation science payload, IDA (Internal Dosimeter Array), provided by ESA and JAXA, will be inside of HALO. This video also depicts:
      The Orion spacecraft docked to the Crew and Science Airlock. Orion will transport international teams of astronauts and three modules (Lunar I-Hab, Lunar View and the Crew and Science Airlock) to the Gateway space station. Government-reference Human Landing System (HLS) that will ferry astronauts to and from the lunar South Pole region. SpaceX and Blue Origin are on contract to provide the Starship HLS and Blue Moon HLS, respectively. Gateway is part of the Artemis architecture to return humans to the lunar surface for scientific discovery and chart a path for human exploration further into the solar system, such as to Mars and beyond.
      Learn More About Gateway Facebook logo @NASAGateway @NASA_Gateway Instagram logo @nasaartemis Share
      Details
      Last Updated Jun 25, 2024 EditorBriana R. ZamoraContactBriana R. Zamorabriana.r.zamora@nasa.govLocationJohnson Space Center Related Terms
      Gateway Space Station Artemis Gateway Program General Johnson Space Center Explore More
      2 min read Through Astronaut Eyes, Virtual Reality Propels Gateway Forward  
      NASA astronauts are using virtual reality to explore Gateway. When they slip on their headsets,…
      Article 3 months ago 6 min read NASA’s Artemis IV: Building First Lunar Space Station
      Article 3 months ago 4 min read NASA, Aerojet Rocketdyne Put Gateway Thruster System to the Test
      Testing of Gateway’s revolutionary propulsion system, known as the Advanced Electric Propulsion System, begins at…
      Article 12 months ago Keep Exploring Discover More Topics From NASA
      Gateway
      Built with international and commercial partners, Gateway will be humanity’s first space station around the Moon as a vital component…
      Artemis
      Moon to Mars Architecture
      Orion Spacecraft
      View the full article
    • By European Space Agency
      The hyperactive sunspot region responsible for the beautiful auroras earlier in May was still alive and kicking when it rotated away from Earth’s view. Watching from the other side of the Sun, the ESA-led Solar Orbiter mission detected this same region producing the largest solar flare of this solar cycle. By observing the Sun from all sides, ESA missions reveal how active sunspot regions evolve and persist, which will help improve space weather forecasting.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      6 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      The specks in this scene were caused by charged particles from a solar storm hitting a camera aboard NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. Curiosity uses its navigation cameras to try and capture images of dust devils and wind gusts, like the one seen here.NASA/JPL-Caltech NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured black-and-white streaks and specks using one of its navigation cameras just as particles from a solar storm arrived on the Martian surface. These visual artifacts are caused by energetic particles hitting the camera’s image detector.NASA/JPL-Caltech In addition to producing auroras, a recent extreme storm provided more detail on how much radiation future astronauts could encounter on the Red Planet.
      Mars scientists have been anticipating epic solar storms ever since the Sun entered a period of peak activity earlier this year called solar maximum. Over the past month, NASA’s Mars rovers and orbiters have provided researchers with front-row seats to a series of solar flares and coronal mass ejections that have reached Mars — in some cases, even causing Martian auroras.
      This science bonanza has offered an unprecedented opportunity to study how such events unfold in deep space, as well as how much radiation exposure the first astronauts on Mars could encounter.
      The biggest event occurred on May 20 with a solar flare later estimated to be an X12 — X-class solar flares are the strongest of several types — based on data from the Solar Orbiter spacecraft, a joint mission between ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA. The flare sent out X-rays and gamma rays toward the Red Planet, while a subsequent coronal mass ejection launched charged particles. Moving at the speed of light, the X-rays and gamma rays from the flare arrived first, while the charged particles trailed slightly behind, reaching Mars in just tens of minutes.
      The unfolding space weather was closely tracked by analysts at the Moon to Mars Space Weather Analysis Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, which flagged the possibility of incoming charged particles following the coronal mass ejection.
      If astronauts had been standing next to NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at the time, they would have received a radiation dose of 8,100 micrograys — equivalent to 30 chest X-rays. While not deadly, it was the biggest surge measured by Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector, or RAD, since the rover landed 12 years ago.
      To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video
      The purple color in this video shows auroras on Mars’ nightside as detected by the ultraviolet instrument aboard NASA’s MAVEN orbiter between May 14 and 20, 2024. The brighter the purple, the more auroras that were present.NASA/University of Colorado/LASP RAD’s data will help scientists plan for the highest level of radiation exposure that might be encountered by astronauts, who could use on the Martian landscape for protection.
      “Cliffsides or lava tubes would provide additional shielding for an astronaut from such an event. In Mars orbit or deep space, the dose rate would be significantly more,” said RAD’s principal investigator, Don Hassler of Southwest Research Institute’s Solar System Science and Exploration Division in Boulder, Colorado. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this active region on the Sun continues to erupt, meaning even more solar storms at both Earth and Mars over the coming weeks.”
      During the May 20 event, so much energy from the storm struck the surface that black-and-white images from Curiosity’s navigation cameras danced with “snow” — white streaks and specks caused by charged particles hitting the cameras.
      Similarly, the star camera NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter uses for orientation was inundated with energy from solar particles, momentarily going out. (Odyssey has other ways to orient itself, and recovered the camera within an hour.) Even with the brief lapse in its star camera, the orbiter collected vital data on X-rays, gamma rays, and charged particles using its High-Energy Neutron Detector.
      This wasn’t Odyssey’s first brush with a solar flare: In 2003, solar particles from a solar flare that was ultimately estimated to be an X45 fried Odyssey’s radiation detector, which was designed to measure such events.
      Learn how NASA’s MAVEN and the agency’s Curiosity rover will study solar flares and radiation at Mars during solar maximum – a period when the Sun is at peak activity. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC/SDO/MSSS/University of Colorado Auroras Over Mars
      High above Curiosity, NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) orbiter captured another effect of the recent solar activity: glowing auroras over the planet. The way these auroras occur is different than those seen on Earth.
      Our home planet is shielded from charged particles by a robust magnetic field, which normally limits auroras to regions near the poles. (Solar maximum is the reason behind the recent auroras seen as far south as Alabama.) Mars lost its internally generated magnetic field in the ancient past, so there’s no protection from the barrage of energetic particles. When charged particles hit the Martian atmosphere, it results in auroras that engulf the entire planet.
      During solar events, the Sun releases a wide range of energetic particles. Only the most energetic can reach the surface to be measured by RAD. Slightly less energetic particles, those that cause auroras, are sensed by MAVEN’s Solar Energetic Particle instrument.
      Scientists can use that instrument’s data to rebuild a timeline of each minute as the solar particles screamed past, meticulously teasing apart how the event evolved.
      “This was the largest solar energetic particle event that MAVEN has ever seen,” said MAVEN Space Weather Lead, Christina Lee of the University of California, Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory. “There have been several solar events in past weeks, so we were seeing wave after wave of particles hitting Mars.”
      New Spacecraft to Mars
      The data coming in from NASA’s spacecraft won’t only help future planetary missions to the Red Planet. It’s contributing to a wealth of information being gathered by the agency’s other heliophysics missions, including Voyager, Parker Solar Probe, and the forthcoming ESCAPADE (Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers) mission.
      Targeting a late-2024 launch, ESCAPADE’s twin small satellites will orbit Mars and observe space weather from a unique dual perspective that is more detailed than what MAVEN can currently measure alone.
      More About the Missions
      Curiosity was built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California. JPL leads the mission on behalf of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
      MAVEN’s principal investigator is based at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder. LASP is also responsible for managing science operations and public outreach and communications. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the MAVEN mission. Lockheed Martin Space built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California provides navigation and Deep Space Network support. The MAVEN team is preparing to celebrate the spacecraft’s 10th year at Mars in September 2024.
      For more about these missions, visit:
      http://mars.nasa.gov/msl
      http://mars.nasa.gov/maven
      News Media Contacts
      Andrew Good
      Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
      818-393-2433
      andrew.c.good@jpl.nasa.gov
      Karen Fox / Charles Blue
      NASA Headquarters, Washington
      202-358-1600 / 202-802-5345
      karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / charles.e.blue@nasa.gov
      2024-080
      Share
      Details
      Last Updated Jun 10, 2024 Related Terms
      Mars Curiosity (Rover) Goddard Space Flight Center Jet Propulsion Laboratory MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) Explore More
      3 min read PACE Celebrates National Ocean Month With Colorful Views of the Planet
      Article 3 days ago 2 min read Hubble Examines a Barred Spiral’s Light
      This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image features the barred spiral galaxy NGC 3059, which lies…
      Article 3 days ago 4 min read Jonathan Lunine Appointed Chief Scientist of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
      Article 4 days ago Keep Exploring Discover Related Topics
      Missions
      Humans in Space
      Climate Change
      Solar System
      View the full article
  • Check out these Videos

×
×
  • Create New...