3:30 PM - 4:50 PM
The most significant advances in Earth, solar, and space physics over the next decades will originate from new observational techniques. The most promising observation technique yet to be fully developed are multi-point or large distributed constellation-based observations of the Earth system. This approach is required to understand the “big picture” and “systems-level” coupling between disparate regions such as the solar-wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere, thermosphere, mesosphere, atmosphere, land, and ocean on a planetary scale. One challenge to deploying satellite constellations been cost but this is now being mitigated by the recent development of miniature instrumentation and miniature spacecraft such as CubeSats.
The NASA Auroral Spatial Structures Probe, rocket 49.002, was launched January 28, 2015 from the Poker Flat Research Range into active aurora over the northern coast of Alaska. It is one of the first NASA sounding rocket missions to attempt a set of multipoint measurements within the aurora. It consisted of a formation of 7 miniature spacecraft (a main payload with 6 miniature sub-payloads). Five of the payload created a string of pearls along the rocket trajectory and the other two were deployed to either side. Each payload included magnetometers, electric field double probes, Langmuir probes. An impedance probe was included on the main payload. The objective has been to unravel the difference between temporal and spatial variations of the auroral fields through a set of observations at different times of the same volume of space. Ultimately one wants to determine the contribution of small scale fluctuations of the electromagnetic fields within the aurora to the larger-scale energy deposition processes. We discuss how such an experimental rocket campaign is conducted when one must predict the occurrence of aurora in advance of the rocket launch. We present preliminary results that hint at the underlying spatial structures of the fields. currents, and energy deposition within the active aurora.