NASA Is Searching For STEVE And They Want Your Help


The next time you’re out looking at the aurora, you could be helping NASA explore a recently discovered phenomenon called STEVE. I intend to be there in Alaska at the end of 2019 to check it out personally!

According to Liz MacDonald with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, “STEVE is a very narrow purple arc and sometimes it has these little green features that go along with it as well that are kind of like waving fingers or a picket fence.”

STEVE was first noticed by citizen scientists who were observing the aurora and saw this unusual purple swirl showing up in low latitudes, farther south than the aurora typically appears. When asked, NASA scientists didn’t know what it was.

NASA says, “with this discovery, scientists now know there are unknown chemical processes taking place in the sub auroral zone that can lead to this light emission.”

Also, because STEVE appears along with the aurora but at a lower latitude, this means there is something occurring in the near-Earth space that influences both the aurora and STEVE.

“STEVE might be the only visual clue that exists to show a chemical or physical connection between the higher latitude auroral zone and lower latitude sub auroral zone,” said MacDonald.

If you’re interested in helping NASA study STEVE, go to the website aurorasaurus.org. Or download the free app.

And in case you’re wondering about the name—originally the citizen scientists called the phenomenon “Steve”, then NASA came up with words to make it work: Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement. Source: 2KTUU

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