Microbursts are quasiperiodic bursts of electrons, mostly observed in the morning sector of the auroral oval. The typical width and interburst spacing are 0.3 sec and 0.7 sec respectively. The figure above is an electron energy spectrogram. The vertical axis corresponds to energy channels from 25 keV - 200 keV, while the horizontal axis represents 4 seconds of time. Intensity is given by color, with blue the lowest and light green the highest. Two microbursts are shown in the middle.
The precipitation of magnetospheric electrons on the earth's atmosphere occur in many different spatial and temporal structures. One particular form of interest, called "microbursts", predominates in morningside precipitation. Microbursts are characterized by the short duration (~.3 sec) quasi-periodic (interval ~.7 sec) bursts of electrons.
Members of the UW Space Physics Group designed a sounding rocket experiment to study the microburst phenomenon. The payload carried electron detectors, and VLF wave antennae. The rocket was successfully launched on the 6th May 1993. Data obtained from this experiment are being analyzed at this time.