Physics Student Research

Document Type

Conference Poster

Journal/Book Title/Conference

2017 CEDAR Workshop


Keystone, Colorado

Publication Date



Understanding the Earth’s lower thermosphere (altitude range 9 km -140km) is of growing interest for many areas of research within the space weather community. The NSF sponsored OPAL (Optical Profiling of the Atmospheric Limb) mission is designed to measure temperature profile by observing the integrated line of sight of the day-time O2 A-band (~760nm) emissions on the limb. The OPAL instrument has an altitude resolution of 1.03km from 80-160km flown on a 3U CubeSat, and is expected to be launched from the ISS (International Space Station) (~400km altitude). We have developed a model of OPAL’s position and attitude of its optical system to investigate the instrument’s ability to detect space weather signatures i.e. solar storms and gravity waves) in the lower thermosphere temperature data. Models of the flight, line- of-sight, and atmospheric O2 A-band emission are used to simulate the expected output of the OPAL instrument. The simulated emission will be used in an inversion method to obtain the altitudinal temperature profile in the lower thermosphere to test our ability to resolve the input parameters of the lower thermospheric model.