Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Engineering and Technology Education


Charles Swenson


The thermosphere is the region between approximately 80 km and 320 or more km above the earth's surface. While many people consider this elevation to be space rather than atmosphere, there is a small quantity of gasses in this region. The behavior of these gasses influences the orbits of satellites, including the International Space Station, causes space weather events, and influences the weather closer to the surface of the earth. Due to the location and characteristics of the thermosphere, even basic properties such as temperature are very difficult to measure.

High spatial and temporal resolution data on temperatures and winds in the thermosphere are needed by both the space weather and earth climate modeling communities. To address this need, Space Dynamics Laboratory (SDL) started the Profiling Oxygen Emissions of the Thermosphere (POET) program. POET consists of a series of sensors designed to fly on sounding rockets, CubeSats, or larger platforms, such as IridiumNEXT SensorPODS. While each sensor design is different, they all use characteristics of oxygen optical emissions to measure space weather properties.

The POET program builds upon the work of the RAIDS, Odin, and UARS programs. Our intention is to dramatically reduce the costs of building, launching, and operating spectrometers in space, thus allowing for more sensors to be in operation. Continuous long-term data from multiple sensors is necessary to understand the underlying physics required to accurately model and predict weather in the thermosphere.

While previous spectrometers have been built to measure winds and temperatures in the thermosphere, they have all been large and expensive. The POET sensors use new focal plane technology and optical designs to overcome these obstacles. This thesis focuses on the testing and calibration of the two POET sensors: the Oxygen Profiling of the Atmospheric Limb (OPAL) temperature sensor and the Split-field Etalon Doppler Imager (SEDI) wind sensor