In Spring, the Aurorasaurus Reawakens!

In Spring, the Aurorasaurus Reawakens!

During Solar Minimum, even Aurorasauruses hibernate a little. But with new funding, Aurorasaurus is coming back with an update! Over the next months, you’ll see updates to our website and tools. This status update is current as of May 1, 2020. 

Behind the Scenes

A man smiles for a brightly-colored portrait.

Dr. Asher Pembroke
Photo Credit: Asher Pembroke

The mastermind behind this revitalization is Aurorasaurus team member Dr. Asher Pembroke, who has been a community scientist since high school when he ran SETI@home from the family computer. He got involved in space weather through an undergraduate research project but was always been drawn to the visualization side of scientific discovery. A lifelong gamer, Asher loves exploring the 3D geometry of Earth’s magnetosphere. While working on his Ph.D. in magnetospheric modeling, he developed new visualization techniques for scientists and educators that helped spread understanding of the intricate coupling mechanisms between the Earth’s ring current and the global magnetosphere. He received his PhD in Physics and Astronomy from Rice University in 2011. After his postdoctorate work at NASA, he continued building science discovery tools for NASA’s Community Coordinated Modeling Center. While there, he mentored students in their work on the OpenSpace project, an open-source data-driven astro-visualization engine used by initiatives like planetariums around the world. 

Now a data science consultant, Asher says he feels honored to contribute to a project that brings together his academic interests and passion for making that knowledge accessible to the public. Thank you, Asher!🦕

Revitalized:

A screenshot of the Aurorasaurus map shows the auroral oval in green, with the red view line beneath it. Scattered across the map are a few Twitter reports.

Aurorasaurus map with Legend

The live aurora map and view line on the www.aurorasaurus.org site are fully functional. Check out the map over time, toggle map icons, and verify tweets. 

A screenshot of the Aurorasaurus website displays the Aurorasaurus Logo. Beneath it is the text "Register/Log In." Beneath the text are three grey buttons that say: "Log in with Facebook," "Log in with Google+," and "Log in with Twitter."

Registering and logging in with Google and Twitter are functional, and we are working on reviving Facebook logins.

 

A green and yellow graph demonstrates Solar Wind Power in GW on the Y axis and local time on the X axis.

Solar Wind Power graph, Aurorasaurus

Our Space Weather Data page is fully functional! This graph shows the strength of solar wind power, a real-time indicator of how strong aurora will be in about one hour. The solar wind power corresponds to the energy released by the sun. The more energy released, the higher the power and the stronger the aurora will be. It’s an easy-to-use tool for beginning aurora chasing. 

To learn more, check out our blog series: What is the Solar Wind, What do magnetic field strength and “Bz” have to do with the aurora, What is Solar Wind Power, and What is KP index.

In addition, Our Privacy Policy now reflects our latest research review, and our About Us page is updated with the current team and more completely introduces what we do. 

Under Renovation:

Asher is working hard to revive other important functions of the site, and some of our most popular tools. The following are at the top of our list:

  • Facebook logins to the Aurorasaurus site
  • iOS and Android apps

Stay tuned to our blog for more updates as we revitalize our tools and start preparing for Solar Maximum! And as always, you can report aurora by tweeting us @TweetAurora

#AuroraShare

An infographic reads: #AuroraShare, May 4-18. Visit www.aurorasaurus.org. Register and report your favorite aurora sightings from the past year. Spread the word! Follow us on Twitter @TweetAurora and on Facebook. More details at blog.aurorasaurus.org. Your reports help us gather data and improve the website. If you give us permission to share your photo and story on social media, please leave a statement in your report.

Join us for #AuroraShare!

As the site revitalizes, we will also be featuring your citizen science reports on our social media! To that end, from May 4-18, please submit your favorite past aurora reports from 1/1/2019–4/30/2020 to the website, especially those that are not yet added to Aurorasaurus. These will help us work out any remaining bugs, give you a chance to be featured, and help decrease the gap in our citizen science database (a win-win-win). Please note that you can only make 2 observations per hour and 6 per day; this helps protect our data from spam.

Aurorasaurus respects your privacy. If you want us to potentially share your submission on our social media, please add a note in the Additional Comments blank in your report, to say you give us permission to share on our social media channels. You will be credited. All other submissions will be covered under our Privacy Policy and Terms. 

(Please report any bugs to http://bit.ly/aurorasaurus-web-bug.)

The (Ionosphere’s) the Limit!

Moving into a new solar cycle, we are looking ahead at the next chapter of Aurorasaurus citizen science and we want to hear from you! What website and app features would make it even easier to submit reports or find the best places to see aurora? What tools or functionalities could Aurorasaurus provide? Start dreaming of what you’d like to see, and please share your ideas in the comments below. We are grateful for all the community scientists who make Aurorasaurus possible. 

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