Auroral Tidbits

Auroral light represents about 4% of the energy that precipitates into the atmosphere, the remainder heats the neutral atmosphere and causes ionization, ultraviolet and infrared emissions, and various radio and x-ray emissions.

The rate of auroral energy release in the upper hemisphere during a moderate substorm (of the order of 100E6 kW) is comparable to the total power-generating capacity of all man-made power plants in all countries over the world.

There are also proton auroras. But since the incoming protons send part of their trajectories as H atoms, they escape the control of the Earth's magnetic field. This then permits the proton beam to spread laterally and consequently proton auroras never show the detailed structure of electron auroras but rather take the form of a broad diffuse emitting surface.

There have been many successful attempts to construct man-made auroras. An electron accelerator is launced high above the atmosphere where it then proceeds to shoot electrons toward the Earth. This gave brief bursts of auroral light at heights of approximately 65-80 miles.

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