Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Spectrometer Measures Auroras' Impact On Ionosphere

Date:
November 17, 1998
Source:
University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
A new imaging spectrometer developed at the University of Illinois will assist scientists who are studying auroras and their effects upon Earth's atmosphere. By discerning spectral characteristics of auroral emissions as a function of altitude, the instrument will aid in the verification and refinement of atmospheric chemistry models.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- A new imaging spectrometer developed at the University of Illinois will assist scientists who are studying auroras and their effects upon Earth's atmosphere. By discerning spectral characteristics of auroral emissions as a function of altitude, the instrument will aid in the verification and refinement of atmospheric chemistry models.

Related Articles


Commonly referred to as "northern lights" or "southern lights," auroras form over Earth's magnetic poles when charged particles in the solar wind bombard atoms in the ionosphere. The excited atoms release their energy in the form of light -- often as shimmering curtains or pulsing filaments. The solar magnetic storms that create these ribbons of light can disrupt power grids in northern Canada and wreak havoc with communications systems that propagate signals through the ionosphere.

"Analysis of the spatial distribution of auroral emissions is important to the study of chemical and dynamical processes occurring in the Earth's ionosphere," said Gary Swenson, the U. of I. professor of electrical and computer engineering who directed the spectrometer project. "This spectrometer tells us which emissions are present, how strong they are, and at what altitude they occur. From this information we can determine the energy of the particles that are penetrating the ionosphere, and compare their observed effects with what our models predict."

The spectrometer works by focusing auroral features onto a grism (a diffraction grating on a prism) and projecting the resulting image onto a CCD (charge-coupled device) array detector. "The spectrometer disperses spectrally in one direction while preserving spatial information in the orthogonal direction," Swenson said.

Unlike standard optical systems that must take data sequentially -- by stepping through filters or by tilting the prism -- the new instrument can simultaneously record all emissions at all observed altitudes. "This is a key advantage when observing auroras," Swenson said, "which are temporally active and can change extremely rapidly."

In recent measurements conducted at Sondrestrom, Greenland, the spectrometer successfully characterized the spatial distribution of auroral features between a height of 80 and 320 kilometers.

"By comparing these detailed altitude distributions of respective emissions with our atmospheric models, we can improve our understanding of the effect that solar magnetic storms have on geophysical processes in the Earth's upper atmosphere," Swenson said.

In addition to Swenson, Richard Rairden of the Lockheed Martin Space Sciences Laboratory, Stanley Solomon of the University of Colorado, and U. of I. graduate student Sharath Ananth assisted in developing the spectrometer and taking the auroral measurements. The researchers described the instrument in the Aug. 20 issue of Applied Optics.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. "Spectrometer Measures Auroras' Impact On Ionosphere." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981117080529.htm>.
University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. (1998, November 17). Spectrometer Measures Auroras' Impact On Ionosphere. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981117080529.htm
University Of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. "Spectrometer Measures Auroras' Impact On Ionosphere." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981117080529.htm (accessed April 24, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, April 24, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dispute Flares Over Controversial Thai Temple Tigers

Dispute Flares Over Controversial Thai Temple Tigers

AFP (Apr. 24, 2015) Thai wildlife officials begin a headcount of nearly 150 tigers kept by monks at a temple which has become the centre of a dispute over the welfare of the animals. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chile Volcano Cloud Spreads

Chile Volcano Cloud Spreads

Reuters - News Video Online (Apr. 24, 2015) Southern Argentina struggles to cope with a blanket of ash after the eruption of the Calbuco volcano in Chile. Rough cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Evacuate As Chile Volcano Erupts Twice In 24 Hours

Thousands Evacuate As Chile Volcano Erupts Twice In 24 Hours

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2015) Chile&apos;s Calbuco volcano erupted twice in a span of 24 hours, once Wednesday evening and again early Thursday morning. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Newest Pesticide Research Wades Into Debate Over Bee Decline

Newest Pesticide Research Wades Into Debate Over Bee Decline

Newsy (Apr. 23, 2015) New research supports the claim that a popular pesticide hurts bees, but it only adds to the debate about how to handle those pesticides. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins