Friday, January 13, 2017

Early Aurora observations

January 13

This is a paragraphs from my grandfather's journal:
Из дедовых дневников:
Наблюдения за полярными сияниями ведутся здесь двумя путями: визуальные и фото регистрация сияния специальной очень хитрой камерой - это делает здесь Борис Моисеев - очень молодой ещё парень, но уже дважды зимовавший на дрейфующей станции  северный полюс СП-6. Вторым способом ведутся наблюдения за "авророй" при помощи радиолокатора, регистрирующего отражения от сияний, и определяющего таким образом их высоту и конфигурацию. Занимается здесь этим Андрей Таранов - радиоинженер, окончивший ленинградское арктическое морское училище. Работает он в паре с ионосферистом Толей Евсеечевым, проводящим при помощи весьма громоздкой бандуры вертикальные зондирования ионосферы. Владимир Дмитриевич Сафронов проводит регистрацию космических лучей. Тоже только регидрацию - отрабатывать данные здесь не представляется возможным - одному это не под силу.

/*A note from Masha in 2017:*/
We observed Auroras two nights in a row on the January 10-11 and January 11-12. We do not have any active observations of auroras of ionosphere from the ship, so we purely enjoyed the view. 
Aurora australis (11 September 2005) as captured by NASA's IMAGE satellite (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=6226)
It was really interesting for me to read about observations they held in 1960. During the International Geophysical Year in 1957-58 first coordinated observations of auroras were performed. This is how scientist discovered that auroras happen simultaneously in both hemispheres, consequently they were related to solar activity in upper layers of the atmosphere /ionosphere. When solar wind and magnetic plasma precipitate to upper atmosphere the energy of charged particles is lost. The resulting ionization emits light of varying color depending on altitude and solar activity. (more in wiki)
Schematic of Earth's magnetosphere (Original bitmap from NASA. SVG rendering by Aaron Kaase.)
Another thing that surprised me - my grandfather describes that there was a person spending not one, but two winters (!) on the ice floe - the drifting station North Pole. This program started in 1930s in the Soviet Russia and is still running. There were some interruptions during the WWII and in the 1990s, but the idea is the same. A crew of several scientists are deployed on the sea ice floe in the Arctic. They establish a camp and make daily observations. It used to be a rather lengthy expedition. However, recently, due to the decrease of the sea ice extent in the Arctic, the North Pole drifting stations can barely survive one season. Ice floes deteriorate rapidly, making the sea ice camps a rather dangerous and short expeditions.
Северный Полюс-6 (photo from https://www.yakutskhistory.net/%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B7%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%82%D0%B8%D0%B5-%D0%B0%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%B0%D1%86%D0%B8%D0%B8/%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%BB%D1%8F%D1%80%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%8F-%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B0%D0%BD%D1%86%D0%B8%D1%8F-%D1%81%D0%BF-6/)


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