Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 21:23 EDT
TIMED Records Impact of Record-setting Solar Flares in Oct
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TIMED Records Impact of Record-setting Solar Flares in Oct. and Nov. 2003

January 30, 2013
Data from the APL-developed GUVI (Global Ultraviolet Imager) instrument shows intense auroras, indicated in white, occurring over the northern polar region and stretching down into the mid-latitudes (as far south as Maryland, Texas and Florida in the United States) during record-setting geomagnetic storms in Oct. and Nov. 2003. Several data tracks, acquired during multiple spacecraft passes, are superimposed over an Earth image or United States map to show the location of the auroras. In the movie and still images, 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. “Our quick-look data analysis indicates something very unusual about the source of the auroras that stretched so far south,” says Larry Paxton, project scientist for TIMED’s Global Ultraviolet Imager, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), in Laurel, Md. “It appears that the solar coronal mass ejection or CME associated with these massive flares thrust particles into our atmosphere that normally would have been deflected by the magnetosphere – Earth’s protective magnetic shield. We need to understand this so we can continue to protect our satellites in Earth orbit and on interplanetary missions.” 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.