Next month, in a joint Canadian / American project, five satellites will be launched to help figure out the mystery behind aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights. This project, called THEMIS, includes recording interaction between charged particles expelled by the sun and the Earth’s magnetic field.
When these particles interact with the magnetic field, they sometimes release energy near the polar regions, resulting in aurora substorms. The electron release interacts with molecules in the atmosphere and appears as the northern lights.
The scientists involved are from Canada and the United States, including NASA. In addition to the satellites, twenty observatories will take digital images and monitor magnetic signatures from substorms. Most of the observatories will be located in northern Canada, including Whitehorse, Inuvik, and Gillam, Man.