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The Aurora Australis--the Southern Lights--over the flagline
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The Aurora Australis--the Southern Lights--over the flagline to a building

June 8, 2010
The Aurora Australis--the Southern Lights--over the flagline to a building in the "clean-air sector" at the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. Flaglines are used during the winter months at the South Pole to ensure the safety of those who have to cross open areas between buildings during periods of high winds, blowing snow and extreme darkness. The Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is one of three U.S. research stations on Antarctica. The National Science Foundation operates them all. [Image 3 of 3 related images. See Next Image.]

More about this Image The Aurora Australis is the atmospheric phenomenon known familiarly as the Southern Lights. Like its more familiar counterpart Aurora Borealis--or Northern Lights--the phenomenon is caused by the solar wind passing through the upper atmosphere. The Aurora Australis is far less frequently observed however, because so few people live in Antarctica during the austral winter.