Physics Department Seminar University of Alaska Fairbanks

J O U R N A L    C L U B


Observing Thermospheric Nitric Oxide in the Polar Night

Scott Bailey
Virginia Tech



There is strong evidence that NO is a key coupling agent by which the magnetosphere channels solar energy through energetic particle precipitation in the polar night. While NO has long been understood as an important species in the upper atmosphere, its highly variable abundance throughout the thermosphere has only been measured during sunlit conditions. The lack of nighttime measurements is a crucial gap in our knowledge as there is a large and rapidly growing body of evidence that NO created by energetic precipitating particles, after being transported to the lower atmosphere during polar night, has a significant and potentially long term effect on stratospheric ozone distributions and thereby possibly climate. We discuss stellar occultation as a method for obtaining nighttime NO concentrations in the mesosphere-lower thermosphere (MLT) region. An experiment planned for launch on January 20, 2017 utilizes a moderately high resolution spectral measurement of the NO γ-bands near 215 nm in absorption. We describe the instrument and observation plan to obtain vertical profiles of NO in the polar night and, if possible, report on the observations.


Friday, 20 January 2017

Globe Room, Elvey Building

3:45 PM