Information from ESA’s magnetic field Swarm mission has led to the discovery of supersonic plasma jets high up in our atmosphere that can push temperatures up to almost 10 000°C. Birkeland currents carry up to 1 TW of electric power to the upper atmosphere – about 30 times the energy consumed in New York during a heatwave. Recent observations from ESA’s Swarm mission have revealed that they are associated with large electrical fields and occur where upwards and downwards Birkeland currents connect through the ionosphere. Scientists have also discovered that these strong electric fields drive supersonic plasma jets.
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