21 Sep 2009








RAL Space Involvement
Imaging Electron Spectrometer and Angle Resolving Energy Analyzer


Main Objectives
To make measurements inside an active auroral display,  and to help explain the phenomenon of pulsating aurorae. Instruments carried onboard were prototypes for the instruments later launched on Cluster 2.

Launch Date
9 February 1994


The Pulsaur rocket was launched from Andoya, a rocket range in northern Norway, into a Pulsating Aurora with a suite of experiments, of which two, IES and AREA had strong RAL involvement. Both of these instruments were prototypes for the instruments later launched on Cluster 2.​ The highly successful mission helped to explain the phenomenon of pulsating aurorae. 

AREA was the Angle Resolving Energy Analyzer,  a 'top hat' electron spectrometer developed by colleagues at Southwest Research Institute in the U.S.A.

The Pulsaur 2 rocket launched the first version of the imaging electron spectrometer instrument, IES, that subsequently flew on NASA Polar as part of the CEPPAD package, and as the RAPID/IES instrument on Cluster.

AREA was intended to measure lower energy electrons, around < 20 keV, whilst IES was intended to measure in the order of 30 to 300 keV electrons.


PULSAUR 2: A sounding rocket project to study pulsating aurora and related phenomena

The second pulsating aurora (PULSAUR 2) rocket was a comprehensively instrumented rocket for the study of the generating mechanisms of pulsating auroras and their related atmospheric and ionospheric effects. It carried instruments to measure electrons and ions over a wide range of energies and pitch angles, optical emissions and X-rays, direct currents and alternating currents, magnetic fields, electron densities and temperatures. The rocket was flown from Andøya, Norway on 9 February 1994, during good auroral and optical conditions, and reached an altitude of 291.5 km. Coordinated measurements were made from the rocket range by television cameras, photometers, magnetometers, riometers and very low frequency receivers. Ionospheric parameters were measured by the EISCAT radar.


Måseide, K., Finn Soeraas, K. Aarsnes, J. Bjordal, A. Coates, W. M. Farrell, T. A. Fritz, M. P. Gough, M. Grande, and J. A. Holtet. (1995) "PULSAUR 2: A sounding rocket project to study pulsating aurora and related phenomena." Proceedings of 12th ESA Symposium on European Rocket and Balloon Programmes and Related Research. 29 May - 1 June 1995, Lillehammer, Norway. ESA Special Publication #370, p 227.​

For more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries