Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Scientists discover first space hurricane above Earth


Hurricanes are a common occurrence on Earth, they wreak havoc across oceans seasonally, and now they may cause chaos in the skies too.

Scientists have discovered the first space hurricane in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Hurricanes have been spotted in the lower atmosphere of planets, including Mars and Saturn and Jupiter, swirling masses have even been spotted on the sun, but this is the first time scientists have seen a hurricane in the upper atmosphere of a planet.

According to data from 2014 that has been analysed over the years and results available only now, scientists have discovered a phenomenon in the Earth’s upper atmosphere that’s called a space hurricane. This space hurricane, according to a report in The Hill, is a swirling masses of plasma that rains electrons, rather than water.

The hurricane occurred in August 2014, but the observations made by satellites were only recently uncovered.

Scientists suspect such hurricanes are more common both in Earth’s solar system and others.

As if humanity didn’t have enough weather phenomena to worry about, scientists have discovered a “space hurricane” that occurred over the Earth’s upper atmosphere for the first time, notes The Hill.

“Until now, it was uncertain that space plasma hurricanes even existed, so to prove this with such a striking observation is incredible,” Mike Lockwood, space scientist at the University of Reading, said in a release.

The report says that this space hurricane occured under Interplanetary and geomagnetic conditions on 20th August 2014, for a period of more than 8 hours several hundred kilometres over the North pole.

With the new findings, scientists were able to create a 3-D image of the 1,000 km-wide swirling mass of plasma that rained electrons instead of water several hundred kilometers above the North Pole.

The space hurricane analysed by the team in Earth’s ionosphere was spinning in an anticlockwise direction, had multiple spiral arms, and lasted almost eight hours before gradually breaking down.

The team of scientists from China, the USA, Norway and the UK used observations made by four DMSP (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program) satellites and a 3D magnetosphere modelling to produce the image. Their findings were published in Nature Communications.


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