Earth

NASA Launched Rocket into Aurora Borealis

alaska-northern-lights

Astronomers launched a NASA-funded rocket into the aurora borealis, which are colloquially known as the northern lights. The 46-foot rocket, the Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling in the Alfvén resonator (MICA), launched from the Poker Flat Research Range, 30 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska.

The rocket arced 200 miles upward before plunging directly into the lights.

Auroras occur when charged particles, which emanate when the sun hits the Earth’s upper atmosphere, produce lights. Instruments aboard MICA will probe the electric and magnetic fields that arise from these collisions.

The information will help researchers understand how the charged particles, or solar wind, affect Earth. This data is important since Sol is currently entering an enhanced period of activity, and electromagnetic storms are detrimental to satellites orbiting the Earth.

MICA also studied the Alfvén waves, a special form of electromagnetic energy which travels through plasma and act similarly to sound waves. When solar wind hits the ionosphere, it strikes the Alfvén resonator, a structure that’s a narrow channel in the atmosphere, hundreds of miles tall, but only six miles in width. This structure is said to reverberate at a certain frequency in response to the sun’s energy. It’s possible that this could also generate auroras.

MICA isn’t the first rocket of its kind. In 2009, two other rockets flew into the aurora borealis.

Share

Recent Posts

Volcanic Super-Eruptions Are Millions of Years in the Making

While the magma supplying super-eruptions develops over long periods of time, the magma disturbs the…

October 5, 2022

Do Stars Remember Their Past? Study Sheds New Light on Old Theories of Stellar Evolution

A star's "childhood" shapes their stellar evolution.  From newborns to teenagers, stars in their "young…

October 5, 2022

Promising Anti-Cancer Drug Could Also Help With COVID

According to research conducted by Johns Hopkins Medicine, multiple variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be…

October 5, 2022

Conventional Computers Can Learn To Solve Tricky Quantum Problems in Physics and Chemistry

Physicists prove that classical machine learning models can improve predictions about quantum materials. Quantum computers…

October 5, 2022

Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Triggered Monstrous Global Tsunami With Mile-High Waves

Sixty-six million years ago a miles-wide asteroid struck Earth, wiping out nearly all the dinosaurs…

October 5, 2022

NASA, SpaceX Proceeding to Crew-5 Launch to International Space Station

NASA will provide live coverage of the upcoming launch activities for the SpaceX Crew-5 mission…

October 5, 2022