Two Black Brant XI-A probes were used for this unusual operation, launched several minutes apart from a spaceport in the north of Norway. Once the devices reached a certain height, they sprayed a tracer – a quickly dispersing gas. This contributed a special illumination to the northern lights, enhancing the already stunning visual effects.
But all this was planned for more than visual beauty. Scientists are currently actively studying our atmosphere, particularly the way the Earth’s magnetic fields work. After entering the atmosphere, the ejected gas (trimethylaluminum and a mixture of barium and strontium) is ionized, transforming into amazing clouds. This offers scientists a chance to understand the direction of particle flows and the influence of the northern lights and other natural phenomena on our planet.