Thursday, March 6, 2014: A NASA-funded sounding rocket flew into an aurora over Venetie, Alaska, on March 3, 2014, as seen in this dramatic image. The…Read More »
sounding rocket mission, known as Ground-to-Rocket Electrodynamics – Electron Correlative Experiment (GREECE), launched from Poker Flat Research Range in Poker Flat, Alaska. The mission intends to study classic “curls” in the nighttime aurora. GREECE mission seeks to understand what combination of events sets up these auroral curls in the plasma (charged heated gas) where auroras form. This information can help explain details of the sun-Earth connection and how energy and particles from the sun interact with Earth's magnetic system, the magnetosphere.
Wednesday, March 5, 2014: Saturn’s moon, Mimas, appearing as a tiny speck at lower right, orbits the planet, while a set of spokes appear in the B ring…Read More »
(just right of center). Scientists do not fully understand the mysterious spokes, but researchers believe the spokes will no longer appear when the sun moves higher in Saturn’s sky, as it approaches northern equinox. This occurrence may relate to the ability of micron-sized ring grains to maintain an electrical charge and levitate above the rings, forming the spokes. Therefore Cassini spacecraft may not see any more spokes in the future. The spacecraft took this image in visible light on Oct. 22, 2013, at a distance of approximately 1.6 million miles (2.6 million kilometers) from Saturn.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014: Astrophotographer Garry Owens sent in a photo of the recent brilliant auroral display seen in the United Kingdom. The auroral activity…Read More »
stemmed from sunspot AR1967 erupting, producing the strongest solar flare of 2014 whic produced auroras at lower latitudes than usual in the northern hemisphere. Owens took the shot on Feb. 27, 2014, in Prestatyn, Wales, UK. [See our video about the recent violent solar flare>.]
Credit: Koichi Wakata (via Twitter as @Astro_Wakata)
Monday, March 3, 2014: On Feb. 23, 2014, Dr. Koichi Wakata tweeted this image of the aurora australis taken aboard the International Space Station (ISS).…Read More »
In another tweet about watching the phenomenon, he wrote: “It looked like a storm of light.” Portions of the space station’s equipment appear at left, while a few stars peek out of the inky blackness of space at bottom. Wakata represents the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) as a Flight Engineer on International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 38 and the Commander of Expedition 39. [See our gallery of Expedition 37/38 images.]