Darwin Sprites '97

In November and December of 1997 the Radio and Space Physics Group of Otago University and Professor Zen Kawasaki's group of Osaka University collaborated in a sprite campaign near Darwin, Australia. In 1996 our Darwin based OmniPAL VLF loggers recorded strong early/fast Trimpi perturbations in the transmission from the US Navy's NWC station 2000 km away. The source of these perturbations decayed logarithmically with time indicating a substantial body of plasma extended in altitude (50 to 80 km). We suspected that such plasma is the result of cloud-ionosphere electrical discharge producing sprites so we decided to try for an optical detection of sprites in 1997. Two camera systems were used in Darwin, one (from Osaka University) a Hamamatsu image intensified CCD, the other (from Otago University) a Russian (supposedly KGB surplus) image intensifier attached to a Panasonic S-VHS-C camcorder. While hampered by overcast conditions we were able to record one sprite on the 27th of November, two sprites on the 24th, and on the 26th of November we imaged around 70 sprites.

From Darwin Sprites '97:

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