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A view of the auroral oval taken by the Visible Imaging System (VIS) on board the Polar spacecraft, part of the International Solar Terrestrial Physics (ISTP) program.

From the VIS web page:
This picture shows a spectacular view of Earth as seen from the Polar spacecraft from intermediate altitudes. The altitude of the spacecraft is 25,740 km and the geographic latitude and longitude of its position are 57.7 and 201.4, respectively. The picture was taken at 00:37 UT on March 25, 1996. Earth's northern auroral oval is seen as a "crown" at the top of the image. The extended region of light in the center and bottom of the image is the glow from the sun's illumination of Earth's upper atmosphere. The filter for this image passes ultraviolet emissions that are not directly visible to the human eye. The intensities of this light from atomic oxygen in Earth's atmosphere at altitudes in the range of about 100 to 500 km are color-coded in the image with dark red as lowest intensities and whitish yellow as the brightest intensities. A coastline has been superposed on the image. Note that the aurora is positioned just north of the Great Lakes. Advances in technology for the construction of these cameras allow images of the auroral oval to be acquired for the sunlit atmosphere with unprecedented clarity, as amply demonstrated by this picture of a complete auroral oval that extends into the sunlit atmosphere.

The image was taken with the Earth Camera that is one of three cameras in the Visible Imaging System which was designed and constructed at The University of Iowa. The Principal Investigator is Dr. L. A. Frank and the Instrument Scientist and Manager is Dr. John. B. Sigwarth.

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