Intense auroral displays are caused by substorms, events in the Earth's magnetosphere consisting of an abundance of plasma physics processes. More than 120 scientists gathered to discuss the latest findings on this phenomenon at a conference organized by Vassilis Angelopoulos, Larry R. Lyons, and Robert L. McPherron of the University of California, Los Angeles.
Just as a thunderstorm cannot be properly analyzed with a single weather station, substorms cannot be properly studied with a single satellite in the vastness of space. Recent satellite missions now provide several simultaneous observations of key processes. Extensive networks of ionospheric radars, magnetometers, and all-sky imagers extend around the world. This has resulted in unprecedented coverage and conjunctions, brightening scientists' understanding of substorms.