The allure of space is hard to describe. It is hardly a surprise that billionaires have spent fortunes to spend a few minutes in space and even a civilian crew are now blasting off on missions. But we're guessing the old adage is true, the best things in life are indeed free. Like this beautiful time-lapse video of the Southern Lights captured during a routine mission aboard the ISS.
Less popular than its northern counterpart, the sighting of Aurora Australis or the Southern Lights is limited by spotting sites in the Southern Hemisphere. While Antarctica is largely uninhabited, astronomers find solace watching them from sites in Australia and New Zealand.
The cause of the phenomenon remains the same in the Southern Hemisphere too. According to a recent Nature study, geomagnetic storms on the Sun release Alfven waves that accelerate electrons towards the Earth. The electric field of the waves continues to accelerate the electrons like "a surfer catching a wave" and create the lights that were caught on camera by French astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
Currently on his second stint, aboard the ISS, Pesquet has been rather lucky spotting auroras. Just a day before this time-lapse, he caught a three-colored one and shared it on Twitter.
Même pas monotones, les aurores australes : une couche 🔴 s’invite parfois au-dessus des flammèches🟢— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) September 13, 2021
Red🔴, green 🟢 and blue 🔵 in this #aurora picture. #MissionAlpha https://t.co/cVSch9fdh9 pic.twitter.com/VutLouSpxJ
On his Flickr account, Pesquet explained that the red color in auroras was seen at higher altitudes whereas the blue was the effect on the Sun that was on the horizon.
The French astronaut has been showered with auroras on this trip. Back in 2016, when Pesquet was onboard the ISS for six months, he could only manage one sighting the entire trip. "I don’t know why we saw so many in the span of a few days when I barely saw one during my entire first mission, but these last ones came with something extra," he wrote on his Instagram account.
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Guess these are some things in life Branson and Bezos' money could never buy, such as these sights.