NASA's tracer rockets give a twinkle to the northern lights

NASA's tracer rockets give a twinkle to the northern lights

NASA's tracer rockets give a twinkle to the northern lights



Mother Earth is a great artist: do not look beyond auroras: natural light screens that paint the sky with amazing colors.

The product of violent collisions between the Earth's atmosphere and the particles of the Sun, those bright sheets of brightness are more than a vision for the eyes.

"Understanding the contribution that aurora makes to the total amount of energy that enters and leaves the geospatial system of the Earth … is one of the main objectives of the Auroral Zone Ascent Rocket Experiment, funded by NASA, or AZURE ", according to a blog of the agency.

AZURE is the first of the eight rocket missions with sound that will be launched in the next two years, as part of an international collaboration known as The Grand Challenge Initiative – Cusp.

Staff at the NASA Wallops flight facility in Virginia performs payload tests for the AZURE mission at the Andøya Space Center in Norway (through NASA's Wallops flight facility)

On Friday, twin rockets were launched between 71 and 155 miles in the ionosphere to measure atmospheric density and temperature. They also deployed visible tracers – aluminum dimethyl ether (TMA) and a barium / strontium mixture that create colorful clouds, allowing astronomers to track the flow of neutral and charged particles, respectively.

"Such measurements are critical if we really want to understand the effects of the mysterious but beautiful aurora," NASA said. "The results will be key to a better understanding of the effects of auroral forcing in the atmosphere, including how and where auroral energy is deposited."

Citizen scientists also received a great show, capturing stunning photos and time-lapse videos of the bright nebulae.

Among them was Michael Theusner, located 110 kilometers south of the Andøya Space Center during the show last week.

"After a great presentation of auroras, we waited more when we suddenly saw two orange dots rising in the sky north of us, which then disappeared again," Theusner wrote in a translated German forum.

In a few minutes, "he became really crazy with four bright spots lit at the same time and with more and more strange colored light effects," he continued. "We were all quite perplexed."

"The more we learn about auroras, the more we understand about the fundamental processes that drive near-Earth space, a region that is increasingly part of the human domain," NASA said. "Home, not only for astronauts, but also for communications and GPS signals that can affect those on the ground daily."

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