2006 Student Research Conference:
19th Annual Student Research Conference

Science

Construction of an Aurora Detector
David A. Kiblinger
Dr. Michael Goggin, Faculty Mentor

We are building a aurora detector from an existing design of Mark Haun's (Haun, Mark A. http://kolonia.keteu.org/~haunma/aurora/aurora.html). The detector monitors the intensity level of visible light at the wavelength of 557.7 nm, a common emission line of auroras. To do this, a bandpass filter centered at 557.7 nm is placed in front of a lens and avalanche photodiode (APD), allowing light at the auroral wavelength to be detected. This signal from the APD is compared to that of another photodiode measuring the level of ambient light to determine the aurora's visibility. This comparison is done via a microcontroller circuit, which also enables the detector to interface with an external computer. The resulting detector is able to send alerts by email when an aurora of significant visibility is present. The entire package is housed in a compact, weatherproof box.

Keywords: aurora detector, avalanche photodiode, microcontroller, Mark Haun, STEP program

Topic(s):Physics

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 25-1
Location: VH 1416
Time: 9:45

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