Small‐Scale Optical Atmospheric Emissions Discovered Using Citizen Science Photography

M. Grandin
2020 AGU Advances  
Over the last few years, citizen science has emerged as a powerful tool to investigate natural phenomena, not only alongside measurements taken by calibrated scientific instruments but also through the analysis of data solely provided by citizen scientists. The increasing number of outstanding space physics studies based on citizen science reveals how valuable amateur photographers' data can be for further understanding the complex processes of the upper atmosphere. In some cases, cutting-edge
more » ... cience is achieved using only citizen scientist photographs, as Semeter et al. (2020, https://doi.org/10.1029/ 2020AV000183) illustrate in a recent study of small-scale optical structures associated with Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement (STEVE), called "streaks." The altitude, morphology, and motion of the streaks are determined thanks to a clever methodology applied only to night sky photographs taken by citizen scientists. The results suggest that the mechanism responsible for the optical emission might involve a point-like source of superthermal electrons energized locally, which can excite the atomic oxygen. This study paves the way for future investigations of the complex upper-atmospheric physics.
doi:10.1029/2020av000268 fatcat:m3veb7umxfbw7cccwas2f5lxcy