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For 36 hours on Feb 14–15, 2010, AMPERE measured electric currents during a small magnetic storm. This view is from above the North Pole and slightly behind the Earth, with the Sun toward the top of the screen. Gray and blue colors represent weak currents, while greens, yellows and reds show progressively stronger currents. This image shows the currents getting stronger as the storm nears its peak, appearing in a pair of arcs that seem to form a circle around the North Pole. The currents flow at heights of about 60–70 miles, but they can affect power grids, and major storms have caused widespread blackouts. Using AMPERE, scientists will soon be able to produce views like this nearly in real time – finally allowing us to see space weather as it happens.

AMPERE (Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment) is sponsored by the National Science Foundation under a grant to The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in partnership with The Boeing Company and Iridium Inc.


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Image Credit: NSF/JHUAPL/Boeing/Iridium

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