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Image credit: NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center

The POES (Polar Operational Environmental Satellites) system of NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) continually monitors the power flux carried by the protons and electrons that produce aurora in the atmosphere: the Aurora Boealis ("Northern Lights") and Aurora Australis ("Southern Lights").  NOAA's National Weather Service "Space Weather Prediction Center" has developed a technique that uses the power flux observations obtained during a single pass of the satellite over a polar region (which takes about 25 minutes) to estimate the total power deposited in an entire polar region by these auroral particles.  The power input estimate is converted to an auroral activity index that ranges from 1 to 10, shown here logarithmically by color.  The red arrow is on the noon meridian indicating the direction of the Sun at the time the maps were generated.

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