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Aurora astralis from Space Shuttle

Aurora astralis from Space Shuttle

E115/0099

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39.3 MB (5.3 MB compressed)

4593 x 2988 pixels

38.9 x 25.4 cm ⏐ 15.3 x 10.0 in (300dpi)

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Credit

NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

The Aurora Australis (or Southern Lights), photographed by the crew of Shuttle Discovery during Mission STS-39 of 28 April-6 May 1991. The aurorae of the northern and southern hemispheres are seen when charged particles from the solar wind or solar flares are drawn into the Earth's magnetic field above the poles. The particles interact with gases in the upper atmosphere, creating the display of light. The study of the spectral and spatial characteristics of the aurorae was one of the secondary tasks of the STS- 39 flight. During the eight-day mission, the crew conducted experiments for the US Department of Defense.

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