Auroral Imaging With Combined Suomi 100 Nanosatellite and Ground-Based Observations: A Case Study

Esa Kallio*, Ari Matti Harri, Olli Knuuttila, Riku Jarvinen, Kirsti Kauristie, Antti Kestilä, Jarmo Kivekäs, Petri Koskimaa, Juha Matti Lukkari, Noora Partamies, Jouni Rynö, Mikko Syrjäsuo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
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Auroras can be regarded as the most fascinating manifestation of space weather and they are continuously observed by ground-based and, nowadays more and more, also by space-based measurements. Investigations of auroras and geospace comprise the main research goals of the Suomi 100 nanosatellite, the first Finnish space research satellite, which has been measuring the Earth's ionosphere since its launch on 3 December 2018. In this work, we present a case study where the satellite's camera observations of an aurora over Northern Europe are combined with ground-based observations of the same event. The analyzed image is, to the authors' best knowledge, the first auroral image ever taken by a CubeSat. Our data analysis shows that a satellite vantage point provides complementary, novel information of such phenomena. The 3D auroral location reconstruction of the analyzed auroral event demonstrates how information from a 2D image can be used to provide location information of auroras under study. The location modeling also suggests that the Earth's limb direction, which was the case in the analyzed image, is an ideal direction to observe faint auroras. Although imaging on a small satellite has some large disadvantages compared with ground-based imaging (the camera cannot be repaired, a fast moving spinning satellite), the data analysis and modeling demonstrate how even a small 1-Unit (size: 10 × 10 × 10 cm) CubeSat and its camera, build using cheap commercial off-the-shelf components, can open new possibilities for auroral research, especially, when its measurements are combined with ground-based observations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2023JA031414
JournalJournal of geophysical research: Space physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • all-sky camera
  • auroral imaging
  • auroras
  • camera instrument
  • CubeSat
  • nanosatellite


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