Auroras appear when charged particles – streaming from the sun – get trapped by Earth’s magnetic field and flow toward our planet’s two geomagnetic poles. Astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) witnessed green curtains of aurora over the Southern Hemisphere on July 14, 2011. A solar wind stream hitting Earth’s magnetic field on July 12th caused the aurora.
This picture of the aurora frames Atlantis’s port side wing and a segment of the boom sensor system attached to the shuttle’s robotic arm. The space shuttle Atlantis is docked to the ISS for the last resupply mission of NASA’s 30-year shuttle program. (Click on the picture for an expanded view).
In the panoramic shot of the aurora australis below, you can see the boom sensor system attached to the shuttle’s robotic arm, and a portion of the ISS solar panels. (Click on the picture for an expanded view).
The same aurora display was visible from Earth’s surface at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica. This image also shows the SPUD microwave telescope on the left. (Click on the picture for an expanded view).
Bottom line: The aurora australis was visible from the International Space Station on July 14, 2011. Astronauts captured stunning pictures of the emerald curtain over the Southern Hemisphere, as did a photographer on the ground at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica.