NASA detects unexpected C- and X-shaped structures in Earth’s upper atmosphere

NASA detects unexpected C- and X-shaped structures in Earth’s upper atmosphere
NASA detects unexpected C- and X-shaped structures in Earth’s upper atmosphere


In a breakthrough for space science, the NASA has revealed the discovery of unusual shapes in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, detected by its GOLD satellite (Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk). This discovery has captured the attention of the scientific community due to the implications it could have for understanding space weather and its impact on terrestrial technology.

The GOLD satellite, launched in January 2018, is designed to study the ionosphere and thermospherelayers of the atmosphere that are crucial for the propagation of radio signals and the operation of satellites. Equipped with an ultraviolet imaging spectrograph, GOLD observes these atmospheric regions from a geostationary orbit, allowing it to monitor large-scale changes in real time.

NASA GOLD mission observations show charged particles in the ionosphere forming an X (NASA)

During its observations, GOLD has detected “C” and “X” shaped structures in the upper atmosphere. These shapes appear as patterns of brightness and darkness in ultraviolet images and are visible in the ionosphere, approximately 90 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The precise nature of these features and their causes are not yet fully understood, but their appearance is a unexpected phenomenon which challenges current theories about the behavior of the ionosphere.

The discovery of these structures has several important implications. First, it suggests that there are processes in the upper atmosphere that have not been previously identified or are not fully understood. These shapes could be related to the dynamics of ionospheric winds, fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field, or the interaction of the atmosphere with solar radiation.

Furthermore, understanding these structures is vital to improve space weather predictions. Conditions in the ionosphere can significantly affect radio communications and satellite navigation. For example, ionospheric disturbances can cause errors in GPS signals, affecting both aviation and emergency services. If scientists can decipher the causes of these “C” and “X” shapes, they could improve predictions about how solar and geomagnetic activity impacts terrestrial technology, Live Science reports.

The thermosphere is one of the layers of the atmosphere that are crucial for the propagation of radio signals and the operation of satellites (NASA/SOFIA/L. PROUDFIT RESEARCH AND TECHNOLOGY POLICY Archive)

In this context, the GOLD satellite provides a unique perspective for studying these phenomena. Its ability to observe the ionosphere continuously and on a wide geographic scale is crucial for detect and analyze the “C” and “X” shapes. Unlike other satellites that can only capture snapshots of the ionosphere, GOLD can monitor changes in these structures in real time, providing valuable data for scientists.

NASA and scientists collaborating with the GOLD project are currently analyzing the data collected to better understand the conditions under which these shapes appear. Studies are underway to correlate GOLD observations with other data from satellites and ground stations. This includes examining how variations in solar activity, geomagnetic storms and other factors can influence the formation of these structures.

In addition, researchers are using advanced computer models to simulate conditions in the ionosphere and reproduce the observed “C” and “X” shapes. These models will help identify the physical mechanisms that generate these structures. predict when and where could appear in the future.

The discovery of GOLD has sparked great interest in the scientific community. Researchers around the world are collaborating to analyze the data and share their knowledge. “This discovery not only enriches the understanding of the ionosphere, but also highlights the “The importance of continuous observation”NASA finally highlights in its report on its latest discovery.

These unexpected structures offer new opportunities to investigate the processes that affect the ionosphere and improve our ability to predict space weather. As scientists continue to explore these phenomena, we will be able to gain a deeper understanding of how space impacts life and technology on Earth.


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