Monday, July 22, 2013

Begin: Sprites campaign

I've been thinking about starting to update this blog again for a while now, but I never really know where to start. So I'm just going to start. If history is any guide, I'll give up on it again soon, but we'll see.

Today I started another sprites observing campaign. Similar to the campaign I worked two years ago with NHK, we'll be flying above thunderstorms in a Gulfstream, using intensified high speed cameras to capture videos of sprites at 10,000 frames per second. In that campaign we were focusing on 3 dimensional reconstruction via filming a sprite from two different locations; this time we're after high resolution spectra of the sprites. I may go into more detail in a future post, but the take home message is we're only flying one aircraft. Today we did an electromagnetic interference test where we rolled the plane out on the tarmac, fired up all the electronics as if we were taking data, and let the pilots test the avionics for interference. Apparently we passed, so we're ready to fly. We may do a short flight Thursday or Friday, but due to the Moon being almost full, our real opportunities start next week. The Gulfstream belongs to NCAR RAF (National Center for Atmospheric Research's Research Aircraft Facility - the same folks who fly through hurricanes) and we're flying out of their base at Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport, just outside Boulder, CO.

So being that it just started today, I don't have much to write yet. But here are a couple of pictures from recent months, taken by other people, that I thought were really cool. First:


This image, taken in May, is probably the first ever image of a sprite and an aurora together. But then, only a week or so later, came another one:


I don't really have anything to add. I've never captured a sprite with my own camera, but I'm going to give it a shot during this campaign.

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