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Steve and the ‘Picket Fence’

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In December 2023, the phenomena known as “Steve” and the “Picket Fence” continue to intrigue scientists. Steve, characterized by its bright purple glow, is formed by a stream of charged particles heating air particles, differing significantly from typical auroras. Accompanying Steve is the Picket Fence, marked by vertical green stripes, whose origins are still under investigation. These phenomena, first recognized in 2018, have been observed more frequently during the sun’s active cycle, particularly in November 2023. Current theories propose that Steve and the Picket Fence might be generated by unique processes in the upper atmosphere, involving parallel electric fields and specific energy ranges of electrons. Further research, including a proposed NASA rocket campaign, is aimed at understanding these mysterious atmospheric occurrences, potentially reshaping our understanding of the physics and chemistry of the upper atmosphere, ionosphere, and Earth’s magnetosphere.

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