From Breitbart.com :
Scientists think they have discovered the energy source of the spectacular color displays seen in the northern lights. New data from NASA’s Themis mission, a quintet of satellites launched this winter, found the energy comes from a stream of charged particles from the sun flowing like a current through twisted bundles of magnetic fields connecting Earth’s upper atmosphere to the sun.
The energy is then abruptly released in the form of a shimmering display of lights visible in the upper latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, said principal investigator Vassilis Angelopoulos of the University of California, Los Angeles.
Results were presented Tuesday at the American Geophysical Union meeting.
In March, the satellites detected a burst of northern lights, or auroras borealis, over Alaska and Canada. During the two-hour light show, the satellites measured particle flow and magnetic fields from space.
The Earth’s magnetic field is a wonderous item to behold indeed. Without it, solar flares, charged particles and other rather nasty pieces from the Sun would have stripped the Earth bare of any vestige of life from the surface and even the oceans.
Many space scientists speculate this is why Mars is so devoid of life, water and oxygen. Since it lacks a magnetic field of any consequence, the radiation from solar flares over the millenia have stripped the planet bare of any signs of water and life.
Theories about how planetary magnetic fields usually center around a planet’s liquid metal core, seizmic activity and plate tectonics, something that Mars seems to lack at the moment.
That’s why many planetary scientists are hopeful to find primitive life (and water) under the surface of Mars, they’re hoping extremophile life buried itself along with the water to escape from the solar radiation.
It sounds good in theory. Hopefully future planetary explorations will turn it into fact.
And thank whatever deity of your choice of the gift of our generous magnetic field!
Hat tip to Mirthy!