NASA crew-2 astronauts flew over an impressive glow before crashing down

Crew-2 astronauts return from the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft on Monday, November 8, were treated to what was described as “the brightest glow of the entire mission” as they flew to the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida, report from revealed.

This is partly due to the recent increase in solar activity as we approach the peak of the little-understood 11-year solar cycle, which sees the star’s magnetic field reverse completely, leading to an increase in solar flares.

The record space flight returns to Earth

The Crew-2 mission set a record for the longest space flight of the US-manned spacecraft, NASA explained in a press release. The crew that included NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrow and Megan MacArthur, astronaut JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). Akihiko Hoshideand an astronaut from ESA (European Space Agency). Thomas Pesque, starts on April 23which means they spent a total of 199 days in orbit before safely bursting down on Monday.

“We were treated to the brightest glow of the entire mission, over North America and Canada,” ESA astronaut Pesquet wrote on Twitter along with an image of aurora borealis taken from space. “Amazing spikes higher than our orbit. Hit by a star and we flew just above the center of the ring, fast waves and pulses everywhere.”

The entire scattering operation, as it happened live, can be seen in the NASA video below.

How does aurora borealis form and is it dangerous for astronauts?

Astronauts often see auroras from the ISS, although this was particularly impressive due to its intensity and the fact that Crew-2 astronauts were flying over the head of the small SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

This particular aurora borealis is caused by several coronal mass ejections fired by the sun last week. According to, one of these bursts of magnetized plasma caught up with another and “cannibalized” it or merged with it as they both approached Earth. This led to a very powerful plasma explosion, which led to the spectacular northern lights seen by Crew-2 astronauts.

Auroras are caused by magnetic and solar storms or magnetized plasma particles from the Sun that react with the Earth’s magnetic field. The aurora did not pose a real danger to the astronauts flying over them, although there was a potential danger of increased radiation exposure, mitigated in part by the radiation protection of the Dragon Crew capsule.

An An assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine, also recently warned that we know little about the effects of the strongest types of solar storms and that they have the potential to spoiled the world wide web. In 1989, for example, a solar storm cut off power to more than 6 million people for nine hours in and around Quebec. For the Crew-2 mission, however, the glow was simply a stunning way to limit their record time in space.

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