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A New Aurora Feature Was Discovered By Scientists, Called It Steve

Travelers Today       By    Sheobi Anne Ramos

Updated: Apr 27, 2017 07:50 AM EDT

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Aurora Borealis, steve, newa aurora feature, swarm mission, esa

The Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borealis, may be the most fascinating natural phenomenon to watch. Commonly found in the northern part of the world, many scientists and avid fans alike have devoted their time to taking pictures and capturing videos of this amazing natural phenomenon.

Recently, the Alberta Aurora Chasers, a Facebook group dedicated to sharing pictures of the Northern Lights, have made an amazing discovery. One shared photo in British Columbia showed a distinct purple streak in the lights that hasn't been seen before, according to Travel and Leisure, and since they do not have any idea what to call it, they decided to name it Steve.

Eric Donovan, a researcher at the University of Calgary in Canada, coordinated with the Facebook group and immediately researched about the new phenomenon. According to the Wired UK, he also sought help from the European Space Agency's SWARM mission to help understand all the components of Steve and how it came to be.

In a statement made by Donovan at the recent SWARM meeting, he said: "In 1997, we had just one all-sky imager in North America to observe the aurora borealis from the ground. Back then, we would be lucky if we got one photograph a night of the aurora taken from the ground that coincides with an observation from a satellite. Now, we have many more all-sky imagers and satellite missions like Swarm, so we get more than 100 [observations] a night."

Data from the SWARM mission will help researchers like Donovan understand the Steve feature because it's the ESA's "first constellation of Earth observation satellites designed to measure the magnetic signals from Earth." And as for the name Steve, it's apparently based on a popular children's movie called "Over the Hedge", where one of the characters looks at something he isn't sure of, so he called it Steve.

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