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Physics of the Auroral E-region

In this project, we study the physics of the lower ionosphere as revealed by multi-point measurements obtained by sounding rockets.

The auroral E region is a part of the ionosphere that extends from 90km up to about 150km. In situ measurements of this region are not easy, since it is too high for balloons and too low for satellites. SPIDER and SPIDER-2 sounding rocket campaigns were launched into different aurora events and have provided us with a unique dataset which allowed for the first time detailed multi-point measurements of this region. 

The main focus of this project is the data obtained by the SPIDER-2 sounding rocket, which was launched in 2020 under a pulsating aurora event. It released a number of free flying units which have provided us with a unique dataset of the lower ionosphere. By looking at the measurements of magnetic field, electric field and Langmuir data, we set out to find characteristics of pulsating aurora.

Some of the questions we want to answer are:

  • What is the spatial/temporal variation of the auroral current closure in the lower ionosphere?
  • What is the response of the ionospheric E region electron concentration and temperatures to varying auroral precipitation?
  • What is the contribution of small scale structuring in plasma, currents and electric fields to the energetics of the lower thermosphere?

Funding agency: SNSA