Photo credit: Lights Over Lapland
For those who either live in northern Norway or have been watching a webcam, some bizarre dancing blue lights may have appeared in the sky this past week, and it’s not extraterrestrial. NASA was conducting The Auroral Zone Upwelling Rocket Experiment (AZURE), with the first one having being launched and seven more planned, that aims to study the patterns of solar winds. What caused the light show? The rocket released harmless gases into the atmosphere, or trimethylaluminum and a mixture of barium and strontium to be more specific, for researchers to study the paths of particles in the Earth’s ionosphere. Read more for two videos and additional information.
“While scientists have inferred the cause of Auroras, they have yet to actually observe the pattern and behavior of solar winds and the ionosphere that drive them beyond computer-generated models. That’s where AZURE comes in. Projects like the one witness by stargazers this month will help scientists gain exact measurements of both horizontal and vertical pathways of particles in the ionosphere over a range of altitudes and help increase understanding of the Auroras they create,” reports Daily Mail.