A sounding rocket was flown during the predawn on 17 January, 1976 from Uchinoura, Japan, to measure directly the behaviour of the conjugate photoelectrons at magnetically low latitudes. On board the rocket were an electron energy analyzer, 630 nm airglow photometer, and plasma probes to measure electron density and temperature. The incoming flux of the photoelectrons was measured in the altitude range between 210 and 340 km. The differential flux at the top of the atmosphere was determined to be F = (1.3 ± 0.4) × 1011 exp[- E(eV) 12] electron · m-2 · sr-1 · s-1 in the energy range 10 ≤ E ≤ 50 eV. The emission rate of the 630 nm airglow was observed in the altitude range between 90 and 360 km. The apparent emission rate observed at 80 km was 32 ± 5 R. From a theoretical calculation of the optical excitation rate using the observed electron flux data along with a model distribution of atomic oxygen, it was estimated that more than 65% of the emission could be produced by direct impact of the photoelectrons with atomic oxygen in the thermosphere between 200 and 360 km. Using the observed electron density and the model distribution of oxygen molecules the residual of the emission was ascribed to the excitation of O(1D) through dissociative recombination, O2++e→O* + O**. The direct collisional excitation by ambient electrons is estimated to be negligibly small at the level of observed electron temperature.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science