Articles | Volume 22, issue 6
14 Jun 2004
 | 14 Jun 2004

Testing an inversion method for estimating electron energy fluxes from all-sky camera images

N. Partamies, P. Janhunen, K. Kauristie, S. Mäkinen, and T. Sergienko

Abstract. An inversion method for reconstructing the precipitating electron energy flux from a set of multi-wavelength digital all-sky camera (ASC) images has recently been developed by tomografia. Preliminary tests suggested that the inversion is able to reconstruct the position and energy characteristics of the aurora with reasonable accuracy. This study carries out a thorough testing of the method and a few improvements for its emission physics equations.

We compared the precipitating electron energy fluxes as estimated by the inversion method to the energy flux data recorded by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites during four passes over auroral structures. When the aurorae appear very close to the local zenith, the fluxes inverted from the blue (427.8nm) filtered ASC images or blue and green line (557.7nm) images together give the best agreement with the measured flux values. The fluxes inverted from green line images alone are clearly larger than the measured ones. Closer to the horizon the quality of the inversion results from blue images deteriorate to the level of the ones from green images. In addition to the satellite data, the precipitating electron energy fluxes were estimated from the electron density measurements by the EISCAT Svalbard Radar (ESR). These energy flux values were compared to the ones of the inversion method applied to over 100 ASC images recorded at the nearby ASC station in Longyearbyen. The energy fluxes deduced from these two types of data are in general of the same order of magnitude. In 35% of all of the blue and green image inversions the relative errors were less than 50% and in 90% of the blue and green image inversions less than 100%.

This kind of systematic testing of the inversion method is the first step toward using all-sky camera images in the way in which global UV images have recently been used to estimate the energy fluxes. The advantages of ASCs, compared to the space-born imagers, are their low cost, good spatial resolution and the possibility of continuous, long-term monitoring of the auroral oval from a fixed position.