Articles | Volume 39, issue 5
Regular paper
24 Sep 2021
Regular paper |  | 24 Sep 2021

Observations of sunlit N2+ aurora at high altitudes during the RENU2 flight

Pål Gunnar Ellingsen, Dag Lorentzen, David Kenward, James H. Hecht, J. Scott Evans, Fred Sigernes, and Marc Lessard

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Cited articles

Abdou, W. A., Torr, D. G., Richards, P. G., Torr, M. R., and Breig, E. L.: Results of a comprehensive study of the photochemistry of N2+ in the ionosphere, J. Geophys. Res., 89, 9069,, 1984. a
Brasseur, G.: Aeronomy of the middle atmosphere: chemistry and physics of the Stratosphere and Mesosphere, Atmospheric sciences library, Reidel, Dordrecht, 2nd rev. edn., 1986. a
Bug, M. U., Gargioni, E., Nettelbeck, H., Baek, W. Y., Hilgers, G., Rosenfeld, A. B., and Rabus, H.: Ionization cross section data of nitrogen, methane, and propane for light ions and electrons and their suitability for use in track structure simulations, Phys. Rev. E, 88, 043308,, 2013. a
Carlson, H. C., Spain, T., Aruliah, A., Skjaeveland, A., and Moen, J.: First-principles physics of cusp/polar cap thermospheric disturbances, Geophys. Res. Lett., 39, 1–5,, 2012. a, b, c
Chakrabarti, S.: Ground based spectroscopic studies of sunlit airglow and aurora, J. Atmos. Sol.-Terr. Phys., 60, 1403–1423,, 1998. a
Short summary
Using the RENU2 rocket and ground-based instruments, we show that significant parts of the blue aurora above Svalbard at the time of launch were sunlit aurora. A sunlit aurora occurs when nitrogen molecules are ionised by extreme UV sunlight and subsequently hit by electrons from the Sun, resulting in blue and violet emissions. Understanding the source of an auroral emission gives insight into the interaction between the Sun and the Earth's upper atmosphere.