This is an effort aimed at developing, installing, and operating a modern all-sky imaging instrument to study airglow emissions over a site in northern Italy (an astronomical observatory of the University of Padua). The primary science rationale of doing so is to study Stable Auroral Red (SAR) arcs, Medium Scale Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances (MSTIDs), and gravity-wave signatures in the mesosphere. Specifically, the new all sky camera will provide the first ground-based multi-longitudinal coverage for the SAR arc. In combination with the existing Millstone Hill all sky camera, the new camera will allow the examination of the longitudinal variations of the SAR arc, which is crucial for a better understanding of the SAR phenomenon and its relation to the dynamics of the magnetosphere and the ring current. On the medium scale TIDs, the new data sets will be used to explore the effects on source mechanisms in Europe, where the characteristics of geographic and geomagnetic latitudes, and the orientation of the geomagnetic meridians, are quite different from those found in the North and South American sectors that are the main focus of current on-going studies. Likewise, the orograhic differences between Europe and other continents will manifest into longitudinal variations in mesospheric gravity wave activities. The location of the new instrument in the Dolomite Mountain Range will enable the first study of source processes in Europe.
The research is fundamentally international in scope, building on a long-established, strong collaboration between scientists at Boston University and the University of Padua in the area of Planetary Atmospheres. The collaboration will be expanded with this effort to terrestrial atmospheric science, with involvement of a new set of students and research staff members from Boston and Padua. A dense network of GPS receivers and ionosondes, already operational within the field-of-view spanned by the imager, will contribute to the studies via collaborations set up with colleagues in Florence (Italy) and Bath (UK). These will be used, together with satellite over-flights, in multi-diagnostic studies by a multi-national team.