The distribution of thermospheric nitric oxide in the northern polar region has been measured from the Student Nitric Oxide Explorer (SNOE). A polar image of a one-year average at 106 km shows the maximum density lies between 60° and 70° N geomagnetic latitude. The density around this auroral oval varies as a function of longitude with the larger densities occurring at western geomagnetic longitudes. A polar image of a second year of observations demonstrates the same latitudinal longitudinal density distribution indicating that the asymmetry is a persistent property of the auroral region. For a period of high geomagnetic activity, the nitric oxide observations indicate that the flux of precipitating electrons at 90° W geomagnetic longitude was 75% larger than the flux at 90° E geomagnetic longitude. We suggest that this asymmetry is caused by the longitudinal variation in the magnetic field strength around the auroral oval.
- Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate