Aurora borealis as seen from space

Photo: Jesse Allen/Robert Simmons/Suomi NPP/VIIRS

Lighting up the night sky

Just three days after a coronal mass ejection or CME erupted from the sun, a NASA satellite captures the resulting auroral waves rolling across the provinces of Quebec and Ontario in the early morning of Oct. 8. These breathtaking auroras occur when a CME puts solar energy particles on a collision course with the Earth's magnetic field.


NASA's Suomi NPP weather satellite is able to track these storms using the “day-night band” (DNB) of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite. The DNB sensor is able to detect dim light signals such as city lights, gas flares, reflected moonlight, airglow and auroras.


* * * 

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.