Artificial auroras in the upper atmosphere 1. Electron beam injections

J.L. Burch, S.B. Mende, N. Kawashima, W.T. Roberts, W.W.L. Taylor, Torsten Neubert, W.C. Gibson, J.A. Marshall, G.R. Swenson

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Artificial electron beams from the Space Experiments with Particle Accelerators (SEPAC) on the ATLAS 1 Spacelab payload were used to stimulate auroral emissions at southem auroral latitudes. The emitted electron beams were monoenergetic at 6.25 keV and were fired in one-second pulses every fifteen seconds with currents of 1.21 A. Optical measurements of the beam were made in the vicinity of the Shuttle Orbiter by its on-board television camera and in the upper atmosphere by the Atmospheric Emissions Photometric Imager (AEPI). AEPI imaged auroral emissions in both white light and at the 427.8 nm N2+ emission line. Energy deposition calculations and the results of previous sounding-rocket experiments had suggested that emissions with scale sizes of about 130 meters would result from the artificial electron beams with the visible emissions extending from about 110 to 130 km altitudes. In the ATLAS 1 experiments the auroral imaging was performed from the Shuttle, providing a new perspective on the artificial auroras and allowing the emissions to be traced from altitudes near the 295 km Shuttle altitude down to the 110 km level along the curved magnetic field lines.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)491-494
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 1993
Externally publishedYes

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