Vertical Winds in the Thermosphere

Under the direction and support of Dr. Federico Herrero of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Nomad Research developed data analysis routines to study the variation of atomic oxygen (O) and the neutral temperature (Tn) in the thermosphere. We used data from the Atmospheric Explorer E satellite (AE-E), combining number density data from the WACS instrument with temperature measurements of the WATS instrument. The goal of the project was to determine whether the variation of the zonal velocity over the course of the day could provide the upwelling and downdrafts required to drive the equatorial ionospheric dynamo.

All usable measurements of O and Tn were extracted from the AE-E database, stored on the NSSDC CD-ROM. Programs written in Fortran and IDL were then used to analyze and plot the data in various ways. The most useful analysis was to group 500 orbits of AE-E data ploints into a single analysis. This allows for complete coverage of the diurnal cycle at all latitudes between ±20° geographic latitudes.

Results of the analysis have been presented at meetings of the American Geophysical Union and the 1996 & 1997 CEDAR Workshops.