TIMED Showcases Data on 1-Year Launch Anniversary
January 30, 2013
TIMED's observations of our atmosphere's response to a series of strong solar storms in April 2002 provided scientists with important new information on the final link in the chain of physical processes connecting the sun and Earth. On Dec. 7, 2002, at the fall '02 American Geophysical Union Conference, TIMED scientists celebrated the mission's 1-year launch anniversary by presenting a variety of scientific results, which included data depicting Earth's response to these storms. The following sequence was part of the aeronomy community's first in-depth look at critical elements in the sun-Earth chain. Data from the APL-developed GUVI (Global Ultraviolet Imager) instrument shows intense auroras occurring over the northern and southern polar regions during solar storms in April 2002, with auroras extending into much lower latitudes than usual. Several data tracks, acquired during multiple spacecraft passes, are superimposed over an Earth image to show the location of the auroras. In this video, the Earth image transitions into two to show the location of the aurora over both poles simultaneously. The northern polar region is shown on the left and the southern on the right. GUVI is being used to determine how energy from the sun changes Earth's upper atmosphere. The different colors seen in the image are those of different sources of far-ultraviolet light in the atmosphere. In this view of the aurora, GUVI's observations of atomic oxygen emissions are shown as blue and the molecular nitrogen emissions are shown in two different wavelength regions as green and red. The changes in the color balance reflect changes in the composition of the upper atmosphere and/or the energy of the incoming particles that create the aurora. One of the puzzles Sun-Earth Connection scientists are trying to solve is how and why Earth's atmosphere responds differently to various types of solar storms. Dr. Larry Paxton, GUVI chief scientist from The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Md., says, "GUVI's ability to quantify Earth's response to these types of solar events will help TIMED and the scientific community make great progress toward solving this Sun-Earth Connection mystery." GUVI is a spatial scanning, far-ultraviolet spectrograph that globally measures the composition and temperature profiles of Earth's upper atmosphere (the mesosphere and lower thermosphere/ionosphere), as well as its auroral energy inputs. GUVI is a collaborative effort between APL and the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, Calif. APL maintains the instrument's Payload Operations Center from its campus in Laurel, Md.
Topics: Environment, Technology Internet, Space plasmas, Astronomy, Physics, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, light sources, TIMED, Space, Aurora, Atmosphere, Sun, Ionosphere, Plasma physics, Planetary science