Nitric oxide density in the lower thermosphere (97-150 km) has been measured from the polar-orbiting Student Nitric Oxide Explorer (SNOE) satellite as a function of latitude, longitude, and altitude for the 2 1/2 year period from 11 March 1998 until 30 September 2000. The observations show that the maximum density occurs near 106-110 km and that the density is highly variable. The nitric oxide density at low latitudes correlates well with the solar soft X-ray irradiance (2-7 nm), indicating that it is the solar X-rays that produce thermospheric nitric oxide at low and midlatitudes. Nitric oxide is produced at auroral latitudes (60°-70° geomagnetic) by the precipitation of electrons (1-10 keV) into the thermosphere. During high geomagnetic activity, increased nitric oxide may be present at midlatitudes as the result of meridional winds that carry the nitric oxide equatorward.
- Auroral electrons
- Lower thermosphere
- Nitric oxide
- Solar soft x-rays
- Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate