ISUAL Imager and far-ultraviolet spectrophotometer degradation

  • Elves can be used as a standard light source to calibrate the ISUAL detectors
  • Annual degradations of the ISUAL Imager and the FUV SP are ~8% and 9.7% respectively
  • Degradation must be taken into account for the ISUAL and similar space missions

The Imager of Sprites and Upper Atmospheric Lightning (ISUAL) has been operated for more than ten years. The onboard spectrophotometer channel-1 (SP1) was designed to detect the far-ultraviolet (FUV) emissions (N2 Lyman-Birge-Hopfield band) from space. It was found that most of the transient luminous events (TLEs), such as sprites, halos, elves, and gigantic jets, are usually accompanied by FUV emissions. The FUV emission could be utilized as an indicator for searching TLEs because the FUV emission of lightning is severely attenuated in the atmosphere during propagation, although the TLE FUV emissions are still detectable. Furthermore, the elves FUV emission photon flux can also be used to estimate the parent lightning peak current. Therefore, SP1 sensitivity degradation assessment, which affects the observed intensity of FUV emissions, is important. Although ISUAL has a light-emitting diode (LED) which is preset as a standard light source, the emission wavelength range of the LED does not cover the FUV band. We established a method in this study to determine the ISUAL Imager and SP1 sensitivity degradation. We found that the annual degradation rates of the ISUAL Imager and the SP1 are 8.4 and 9.7%, respectively.

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