Citizen Scientists Discover Aurora ‘Steve’; Get Validation From European Science Agency

By Dipannita | Apr 25, 2017 07:05 PM EDT

A new but strange aurora feature has been discovered by a Facebook group "Alberta Aurora Chasers" and the finding has also received approval from European Science Agency. The group of citizen scientists has given it the name "Steve" and the said aurora feature was seen forming a unique purplish/greenish vertical streak instead of the colorful horizontal streaks auroras are known to form.

A bunch of citizen scientist who works under the Facebook group "Alberta Aurora Chasers" have found out an intriguing aurora feature and named it "Steve", Space claimed. What is more interesting is that a researcher at European Science Agency, Eric Donovan, has verified the finding and said that "Steve" was a common occurrence but had been only discovered now, thanks to vigilant citizen scientists.

Notably, the "Alberta Aurora Chasers" had initially referred to the purple streak of light as proton arc. However, some members of the Facebook group got in touch with Eric Donovan after listening to his talk and showed him the images that the group had accessed. Donovan knew that the proton aurora is invisible and therefore, he resorted to Swarm satellite program of ESA that had enough resources on the matter because it had launched three satellites in 2013 to monitor the magnetic field of the earth, CBS News reported.

Upon studying and comparing the data from the satellites and the images captured by the group, Donovan reached the conclusion that Steve was a common phenomenon that was just lying unexplored all this while. This is because when the satellite passed across Steve, the temperature above Earth's surface shot up by 3000°C and a broad ribbon of gas, 25 km in width, also started flowing in the west direction at a higher speed.

Another ESA scientist Roger Haagmans has also spoken about Steve and expressed happiness at the vigilantism of the citizen scientists saying that the discovery was a fine example of a society driven by a quest to become more scientific.

Related Stories

Most Popular