Exploring the Upper Atmosphere

In this chapter, we describe how we can understand the state of the upper atmosphere (the ionosphere, thermosphere, and aurora) using optical observations and how one produces a global view of the Earth s upper atmosphere from optical remote sensing, especially using far ultraviolet (FUV) wavelengths, to advance our understanding of the near Earth space environment. We examine the choice of optical signatures, the basic science behind the signatures, and the techniques for observations. Examples of the technique as applied to key geophysical processes are described and discussed for tracing the physical processes that alter the state variables (in particular, density, composition, and temperature) in the upper atmosphere. Applications of optical remote sensing will be discussed in terms of the challenges inherent in establishing a predictive capability of the global upper atmosphere system, including the high-latitude regions (such as the Arctic) where the structures of the thermosphere and ionosphere are complicated by strong coupling among the polar ionosphere, magnetosphere, and solar wind.
Year of Publication
ISBN Number