Global observations of nitric oxide in the thermosphere

C.A. Barth, K.D. Mankoff, S.M. Bailey, S.C. Solomon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1027
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue numberA1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Auroral electrons
  • Lower thermosphere
  • Nitric oxide
  • SNOE
  • Solar soft x-rays

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 5: Nature and Climate


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