NASA's THEMIS mission (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms) included support for an extended network of Ground-Based Observatories (GBOs) with coverage over the North American auroral regions. Each station is equipped with a white-light auroral imager and a magnetometer providing an almost global-scale coverage of auroral phenomena. This project will extend the operation of the US-managed portion of the THEMIS-GBO network now that the NASA mission is being phased out. The Canadian portion of the THEMIS-GBO system will be funded through 2012 with option to renew/continue it until 2015. This award will enable the uninterrupted operation of the entire network until 2015. The observations made by the THEMIS-GBO network are strongly synergistic with other observational facilities supported by NSF and by the Canadian Space Agency. Among these other facilities are the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radars (AMISR) located at Poker Flat and Resolute Bay, and the many Super Dual Auroral Radar Network (SuperDARN) coherent scatter radars located in the northern hemisphere.
Data from the THEMIS-GBO network will be made available to the general science community and will support scientific research on a wide variety of topics, including the appearance and disappearance of auroral arcs, the role of small-scale structures in auroral arcs, the relationship between auroral phenomena and the large-scale ionospheric convection, the relationship of polar-cap arcs to open and/or closed magnetic field lines, the current systems associated with auroral arcs and the properties of magnetic substorms during solar maximum as compared to solar minimum. These research topics all have relevance to our understanding of space weather and the effects space weather can have on technological systems. The project will provide direct research experience for undergraduate students.