The Imager for Sprites and Upper Atmospheric Lightning (ISUAL) payload on board the FORMOSAT-2 satellite carried out the first limb imaging observation of 630 nm airglow for the purpose of studying physical processes in the F region ionosphere. For a total of 14 nights in 2006-2008, ISUAL scanned the midnight latitude-altitude distribution of 630 nm airglow in the Asian sector. On two nights of relatively active conditions (ΣKp = 26, 30+) we found several bright airglow regions, which were highly variable each night in terms of luminosity and location. In relatively quiet conditions (ΣKp = 4-20) near May/June we found two bright regions which were stably located in the midlatitude region of 40°S-10°S (50°S-20°S magnetic latitude (MLAT)) and in the equatorial region of 0°-10°N (10°S-0° MLAT). On one of the quiet nights, FORMOSAT-3/COSMIC and CHAMP simultaneously measured the plasma density in the same region where ISUAL observed airglow. The plasma density data generally show good agreement, suggesting that plasma enhancements were the primary source of these two bright airglow regions. From detailed comparison with past studies we explain that the airglow in the equatorial region was due to the midnight brightness wave produced in association with the midnight temperature maximum, while that in the midlatitude region was due to the typical plasma distribution usually formed in the midnight sector. The fact that the equatorial airglow was much brighter than the midlatitude airglow and was observed on most nights during the campaign period strongly suggests the importance of further studies on the MTM/MBW phenomenology, which is not well reproduced in the current general circulation model.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Space and Planetary Science