Astronauts share stunning views of the northern lights • Earth.com

Astronauts share stunning views of the northern lights

04-11-2021


Astronauts share stunning views of the northern lights Today’s Video of the Day from the NASA Earth Observatory features the northern lights over Canada captured by astronauts on September 28, 2017. The video is a time-lapse of nearly 1,000 still frames shot over a span of 15 minutes.

At the time the photographs were taken, the International Space Station was passing from the northwestern region of the United States toward the southeast.

“The time-lapse imagery that we’ve been able to get of auroras is just fascinating to watch,” said Will Stefanov, ISS program scientist for Earth observations at Johnson Space Center. “And just strikingly beautiful to be able to see that process, how the aurora shifts and moves like a live thing. And knowing that for that particular stretch of time, you are pretty much seeing what the crew saw in orbit.”

Just about a week prior to the time-lapse footage, astronaut Randy “Komrade” Bresnik had captured a spectacular photograph of the aurora borealis as the space station passed over Ontario, Canada. Auroras are the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar wind. Therefore these disturbances chanhe the trajectoriy of charged particles in the magnetospheric plasma. These particles, such as electrons and protonsprecipitate into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere). The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emit light of different color and complexity. The form of the aurora, occurring within bands around both polar regions, is also dependent on the amount of acceleration imparted to the precipitating particles.

Video Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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