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The University of Southampton
Southampton Planeterrella

Steve on Steve

Published: 10 November 2017
An artist's impression of the three Swarm satellites in orbit over Earth (©ESA/AOES Medialab)

Steve Browett, a PhD student working on the response of the magnetotail to solar wind driving, tells us about a new development in auroral research….

I first heard about Steve at the Geospace Environment Modelling workshop , in a talk given by Eric Donovan from the University of Calgary . Eric told the story of how the Alberta Aurora Chasers showed him photographs of bright aurora unlike any he had seen before. Nobody else had seen it before, either, and so it was christened Steve.

From the photographs, Steve is known to be a very bright form of aurora that forms a band twenty-five kilometres wide and hundreds of kilometres long. Within days of its discovery, Eric used the European Space Agency’s Swarm satellites to start looking at Steve in more detail, finding that it’s located 300 kilometres above the Earth’s surface and it’s 3000 °C hotter than the surrounding atmosphere. Hopefully, we’ll soon know what lies behind these unique shining displays!

For more details about Steve, visit the blog post on the ESA Swarm website.

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