By Mark Halper
Posting in Energy
Extreme-sports cameras capture the action from within the aurora borealis, 100,000 feet above Alaska.
Camera company GoPro sent some of its extreme-sports high definition cameras up into the charged particles of the Northern Lights. The result: some action-packed shots in a video that includes moving and still scenes of what the company claims are the first ever images from inside the lights - also known as the Aurora Borealis - where solar wind and geomagnetism combine to put on a show. The video seems to be a montage from land and space, but I take GoPro at its word that this includes footage shot from helium balloon rigs at 100,000 feet above Alaska earlier this month. Have a look, and hold onto your hair. If the embed doesn't work (Vimeo seems to have taken it back after first letting us have it) then click here or on the video credit below:
Apr 24, 2012
From the video source... and to address the non-believers. (No, the world is not flat.) This timelapse video contains the first-ever photos from alongside the edge of the Northern Lights, aka. the Aurora Borealis.?? Captured at 100,000 feet using a modified GoPro HD Hero2 camera attached to a carbon fiber frame, this homemade spacecraft reached altitude using a helium weather balloon and also hosted other scientific instruments used to measure features of the Aurora. [Note: there has been some questions as to why GoPro staged another camera in the frame during the flight, and it's not as an advertisement as some have suggested. It's because the camera needs to have an item to focus on, rather than the opposite effect when the camera focuses on infinity and everything is blurred out beyond recognition.] According to the project leader, Ben Longmier, "We were measuring the plasma particle density at an altitude of 30 km, where the particle density is enhanced due to the presence of the aurora and high energy electrons streaming down into the magnetosphere." Stay tuned for more about this project, and read more in the meantime...?? http://justingural.wordpress.com/2012/04/13/aurora-borealis-above-fairbanks-alaska/ Produced by:?? Justin Gural / @theTraverse Ground Timelapse by:?? Justin Gural / @theTraverse Canon 5D Mark II Atmosphere Timelapse by: GoPro / @GoPro GoPro HD Hero2 Music:?? "Plasma" written by Trey Anastasio, Tom Marshall and Scott Herman Copyright Who Is She? Music (BMI). Performed by Trey Anastasio Band House of Blues, Atlantic City, NJ [Note: this video also may feature the first-ever footage of the Northern Lights scored without the use of classical music. We're breaking all kinds of firsts, here. Rock n' friggin' roll.]
While I have to salute the choice of background music in the video (Trey's music is some of the best, though this sounds like a cover and not the maestro himself), there's nothing in the video that you wouldn't be able to see right on the ground, and I'm dubious. I think we're being spoofed here! And even if they really did use a helium balloon, 100,000' is barely 19 miles (just over 30 km). This is way below the height of even the lowest aurorae! I knew this already but decided to research it for the benefit of readers here (something the author of this article would have done, if he had any background on the subject). Quoting from the Norwegian web site... http://www.tgo.uit.no/articl/theaurora.html The height of the northern lights above ground level was a controversial subject for a long time. Around 1900 there were few people who claimed that the northern lights could reach right down to the ground, but whether they were located at a height of a few kilometers or many hundered kilometers up was unclear. The problem was solved by photographing them simultaneously from two places. If the appropiate distance between the two places was selected, it was possible to discover the displacement of the northern lights in relation to the stars in each photographs and thus calculate their height. Thousands and thousands of such triangulations were preformed from 1910 up to the 1950s. They showed that the northern lights were generally between 90 and 130 km above ground level, but many auroras - particulary the rayed aurora - extend to a height of several hundred kilometers. By way of comparison, the usual flight level of a jet is ca 10 km, and the ozone layer is located 20-30km up. We have to go almost as hight as satellites to find the northern lights. A consequence of the great height is that the northern lights are visible over distances of several hundred kilometers. Thus an aurora over Bear Island could be seen in both northern Norway and Svalbard, and an aurora over Finnmark could be seen in the northern sky in the county of Troendelag. Boy, those northern Norwegians might have to deal with extra dark and cold, but they sure do get a nice reward in the way of a sky show!