U2 Spy Plane Flies Through a Dazzling Aurora

Tuesday, 3 April

Viewing an aurora from earth is amazing; flying into one is truly spectacular. Air Force pilot Ross Franquemont flew his U-2 Spy plane through these colourful lights. Used for aerial surveillance, the U-2 can reach cruising altitudes of over 70,000 feet (13 miles).

The creation of these amazing light formations begins with the sun. Electrically charged ions constantly leave the sun in the form of solar wind. While most of the solar wind is blocked from earth by our magnetosphere, some enter. Colliding with nitrogen from earth’s atmosphere, energy is released, causing a glowing halo. Most auroras form somewhere between 60 and 620 miles above earth’s surface.

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