48.7 MB (3.4 MB compressed)
5119 x 3324 pixels
43.4 x 28.2 cm ⏐ 17.1 x 11.1 in (300dpi)
NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The Aurora Australis (or Southern Lights), photographed above the Earth's limb by the crew of Shuttle Discovery during Mission STS-39 of 28 April to 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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