Multi-Camera Reconstruction of Fine Scale High Speed Auroral Dynamics
Monday, 15 December 2014
The fine spatial structure of dispersive aurora is known to have ground-observable scales of less than 100 meters. The lifetime of prompt emissions is much less than 1 millisecond, and high-speed cameras have observed auroral forms with millisecond scale morphology. Satellite observations have corroborated these spatial and temporal findings.
Satellite observation platforms give a very valuable yet passing glance at the auroral region and the precipitation driving the aurora. To gain further insight into the fine structure of accelerated particles driven into the ionosphere, ground-based optical instruments staring at the same region of sky can capture the evolution of processes evolving on time scales from milliseconds to many hours, with continuous sample rates of 100Hz or more. Legacy auroral tomography systems have used baselines of hundreds of kilometers, capturing a “side view” of the field-aligned auroral structure. We show that short baseline (less than 10 km), high speed optical observations fill a measurement gap between legacy long baseline optical observations and incoherent scatter radar.
The ill-conditioned inverse problem typical of auroral tomography, accentuated by short baseline optical ground stations is tackled with contemporary data inversion algorithms. We leverage the disruptive electron multiplying charge coupled device (EMCCD) imaging technology and solve the inverse problem via eigenfunctions obtained from a first-principles 1-D electron penetration ionospheric model. We present the latest analysis of observed auroral events from the Poker Flat Research Range near Fairbanks, Alaska. We discuss the system-level design and performance verification measures needed to ensure consistent performance for nightly multi-terabyte data acquisition synchronized between stations to better than 1 millisecond.