Image of IMAGE in space

Two Kinds of Aurora Discovered During a Major Storm


On June 28, 2000, IMAGE watched a complicated and shifting ballet between electron and proton currents as they entered the atmosphere from space above the Arctic Region of Earth. The sudden brightening of the aurora at the beginning of the magnetic storm around midnight was only seen by IMAGE's FUV instrument which is sensitive to electron currents. The proton aurora is brighter on the dusk while the electron aurora on the dawn side. As the electron surge expands towards the pole it leaves the protons behind.

(2001: S. B. Mende, H. U. Frey, M. Lampton, J.-C. Gerard, B. Hubert, S. Fuselier, J. Spann, R. Gladstone, and J. L. Burch)

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Additional Information

Aurora - The lights often seen in the northern skies at night, which take the form of green, red or bluish clouds or curtains of light. Northern people have watched these in wonder for centuries. They are produced by currents of charged particles from distant regions of the magnetic field.

Magnetic Storm - A disturbance in Earth's magnetic field that can last from a few minutes to several days. Severe storms can cause compass needles to give the wrong navigation bearings. They signal the presence of powerful currents of charged particles flowing near Earth in space.

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Dr. S. Odenwald,, +1-301-286-6953
NSSDC, Mail Code 630, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771
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Rev. 1.0.0, 24 April 2003, EVB II