Using a nanosatellite radar receiver, researchers take first-ever measurement of auroral turbulence
Researchers from SRI International and the University of Michigan have taken the first-ever measurement of naturally occurring auroral turbulence recorded using a nanosatellite radar receiver. The research was done with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA's Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) Initiative. The distinctive radar echoes recorded on March 8 were taken with the Radio Aurora Explorer (RAX) CubeSat, which was specifically designed by SRI and the University of Michigan to measure this auroral turbulence from an orbital vantage point inaccessible to traditional ground-based radars. The project's mission was to remotely explore formation of charged particle filaments created in response to intense electrical currents in space. During the recent solar flare, RAX measured the echoes of a form of turbulence called field-aligned irregularities (FAI) using the Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar (PFISR), an NSF research radar operated by SRI.