Aurorasaurus Project’s Involvement Researching STEVE Featured on CNN News
Recently, CNN featured the Aurorasaurus participatory science project’s research, supported by the New Mexico Consortium, in the news.
This article, written by Jackie Wattles, is all about a purple and green phenomenon that looks like an aurora but is in fact something different called STEVE (“Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement”).
STEVE is being noticed more as the sun is entering the solar maxiumum, or the sun’s most active period. The numbers of both auroras and STEVEs that appear in the night sky are ramping up and people are spotting STEVE in areas it does not typically appear.
Seeing and knowing about this phenomena is not new, but it is relatively recently that scientists learned STEVE is different from the regular aurora.
Elizabeth MacDonald, the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center scientist leading the Aurorasarus project, is one of the scientists studying this phenomenon. The current theory is that the lights are a visual manifestation of something called subauroral ion drift, or SAID.
SAID refers to a narrow flow of charged particles in Earth’s upper atmosphere that occurs equatorward of the aurora and flows east to west. Before this it was unknown that SAIDs might occasionally be visible!
Auroras, which are caused by electrically charged particles causing atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere to emit light, are different from STEVE. While auroras can appear as moving ribbons of red, green and pink, STEVE shows up at lower latitudes and appears as a streak of mauve or grey light stretching east to west, accompanied by distinctive green bands which are often referred to as a “picket fence”.
To learn where and how to see STEVE, see the entire CNN article by Jackie Wattles at: These magnificent purple and green lights aren’t auroras. This is Steve
Top image of STEVE captured by Canadian photographer Neil Zeller.