2002-2003 Science Planning Summary

Aeronomy & Astrophysics

Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili
Program Manager


Station: South Pole Station
RPSC POC: Paul Sullivan
Research Site(s): Skylab building

All-Sky Imager at the South Pole
Dr. Masaki Ejiri
National Institute of Polar Research
Upper Atmosphere Physics

Deploying Team Members: Yusuke Ebihara . Masaki Tsutsumi
Research Objectives: The South Pole is a unique platform for observing aurora during the austral winter. The pole provides a unique vantage point for observing the airglow and to discern the characteristics of acoustic gravity waves in the polar region as they vary in altitude and wavelength. The continuous observation available at the South Pole allows researchers to collect data on auroras that develop from precipitating low-energy particles entering the magnetosphere from the solar wind:

Dayside polar cusp/cleft aurora,

Afternoon aurora that are closely associated with the nightside magnetospheric storm/substorm activities,

The polar cap aurora, which is dependent on the polarity of the interplanetary magnetic field.

Though data have been acquired at the South Pole since 1965 using a film-based, all-sky camera system, newer technology produces digital images and permits automatic processing of large amounts of information. This group uses the all-sky-imager (ASI), a digital CCD imager monitored and controlled by the Japanese NIPR (National Institute of Polar Research).

These international collaborations should enhance knowledge of the magnetosphere, the ionosphere and of upper/middle atmosphere physics. The HF (high frequency) radars at Halley Bay, Sanae, and Syowa Station provide the vector velocity of ionospheric plasma over the South Pole.

These studies should provide further insight into the physics of the magnetosphere, the convection of plasma in the polar cap, and solar wind effects - specifically dayside auroral structure, nightside substorm effects, and polar-cap arcs.

Field Season Overview:
This field season, project team members will spend about a week at the Aurora Lab at South Pole Station performing maintainenance on the optical camera, workstation, and data recorder and calibrating the optical device.

During the polar night, the All-Sky Imager (ASI) is remotely operated through a satellite link by researchers at the National Institute of Polar Research in Japan. The South Pole science technician changes data tapes, monitors the condition of the glass radome, turns the "moon blocker" on/off, and performs maintenance and repairs.