Optical Determinations of Atmospheric Structure
Rocket borne gauges and satellite drag observations have given information on mean density to heights of several hundred miles, but not on chemical composition. The progress of dissociation of O2 and N2 with altitude up to the levels at which they are completely dissociated is known only very approximately. It is generally agreed that hydrogen must become the principal constituent of the atmosphere at very high altitudes, yet theoretical estimates of the densities above the exosphere vary by orders of magnitude. It can be shown, however, that optical methods are capable of providing composition data on all the important atmospheric constituents up to the outermost fringes of the terrestrial atmosphere.
KeywordsOptical Depth Scale Height Resonance Absorption Naval Research Laboratory Neutral Hydrogen
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