When Swarm met Steve
21 April 2017
Thanks to social media and the power of citizen scientists chasing the northern lights, a new feature was discovered recently. Nobody knew what this strange ribbon of purple light was, so... it was called Steve.
ESA's Swarm magnetic field mission has now also met Steve and is helping to understand the nature of this new-found feature.
Speaking at the recent Swarm science meeting in Canada, Eric Donovan from the University of Calgary explained how this new finding couldn't have happened 20 years ago when he started to study the aurora.
While the shimmering, eerie, light display of auroras might be beautiful and captivating, they are also a visual reminder that Earth is connected electrically to the Sun. A better understanding of the aurora helps to understand more about the relationship between Earth's magnetic field and the charged atomic particles streaming from the Sun as the solar wind.