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Astonishing NASA rocket launch into aurora

So mesmerising is the sight of an aurora - that splendid looking luminous sheet of highly charged electrical and magnetic current hanging high above earth’s atmosphere - mankind has frequently (and literally) travelled to the ends of the earth to marvel at its wonder.

Now, however, a group of wily NASA-funded scientists have gone one better, launching a rocket into the belly of this natural phenomenon in the hope of studying the curls the aurora weaves into darkened skies and, in turn, have provided us with some stunning imagery of the event.

Fired from Poker Flat Research Range in Alaska on 3 March, the instrument entitled GREECE (The Ground-to-Rocket Electrodynamics – Electron Correlative Experiment) flew through the sky for ten minutes, which you can see from these shots taken as it whizzed over the sleepy village of Venetie.

Much more than mere jaw-dropping imagery, of course, the team believe the data captured will help to better understand the aurora, and movement of plasma in general, and, with it, how energy and particles from the sun interact with Earth's own magnetic system.

To find out more about the GREECE mission, click here:

(Images: NASA/Christopher Perry)