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High-Altitude Aurora's Create Speed ​​Bumps for Satellites

A high-altitude version of the Northern Lights can create a headwind for some orbiting satellites, a new study report. The aurora helps to transport pockets of air higher up in the Earth's atmosphere which increased the drag on spacecraft sinking around the earth at relatively low altitudes, researchers said in the new study. "We knew that these satellites hit" speed bumps "or" buildup ", causing them to slow down and rise, says study director Marc Lessard, a physicist at the University of New Hampshire, in a statement. this mission, we were able to unlock some of the mystery around why it happens by discovering that the bumps are much more complicated and structured. " The assignment Lessard is referred to is Rocket Experiment for Neutral Upwelling 2 (RENU2), a short suborbital flight launched from Norway in December 201 5. RENU2 rocket observed poleward-moving auroral forms (PMAFs) , which is dimmer and less energetic than the "normal" Northern Lights that reached postcards and posters. PMAF is also much higher upwards as far as 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the ground, compared to about 100 miles for its more famous and picturesque cousins. PMAF therefore transfers energy to the pointed air in the upper parts of the Earth's atmosphere, the study found. And these "uplifting events" can complicate the lives of the satellites passing in low ground. "You can think of the satellites traveling through air pockets or bubbles [as being] similar to those in a lava lamp, which oppose a smooth…

A high-altitude version of the Northern Lights can create a headwind for some orbiting satellites, a new study report.

The aurora helps to transport pockets of air higher up in the Earth’s atmosphere which increased the drag on spacecraft sinking around the earth at relatively low altitudes, researchers said in the new study.

“We knew that these satellites hit” speed bumps “or” buildup “, causing them to slow down and rise, says study director Marc Lessard, a physicist at the University of New Hampshire, in a statement. this mission, we were able to unlock some of the mystery around why it happens by discovering that the bumps are much more complicated and structured. “

The assignment Lessard is referred to is Rocket Experiment for Neutral Upwelling 2 (RENU2), a short suborbital flight launched from Norway in December 201

5.

RENU2 rocket observed poleward-moving auroral forms (PMAFs) , which is dimmer and less energetic than the “normal” Northern Lights that reached postcards and posters. PMAF is also much higher upwards as far as 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the ground, compared to about 100 miles for its more famous and picturesque cousins. PMAF therefore transfers energy to the pointed air in the upper parts of the Earth’s atmosphere, the study found.

And these “uplifting events” can complicate the lives of the satellites passing in low ground.

“You can think of the satellites traveling through air pockets or bubbles [as being] similar to those in a lava lamp, which oppose a smooth wave,” Lessard said .

Earth auroras result when charged particles from the sun slip into molecules in our planet’s atmosphere. It excites these molecules to higher energy levels, and they emit light as a result. The color of that light depends on which molecule is affected. Collisions with oxygen generate yellow and green embers, for example, while nitrogen issues red, purple or blue when excited.

The Earth’s magnetic field tramples solar particles against the planes’ poles, so the aurors are usually limited to high latitudes. But strong solar activity can ramp up, increase its strength and extend its geographical reach.

The new study was published last month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters .

Mike Wall’s book about the search for foreign life, “ Out There ” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018, illustrated by Karl Tate ), is out now. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall . Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or Facebook .

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