Collaborative Research: DASI Track 2: An optical network to study the vertical propagation resulting in spatio-temporal variability in the thermosphere

While a key science challenge of this decade is to “determine the dynamics and coupling of Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere, and atmosphere and their response to solar and terrestrial inputs”, [National Research Council, 2012], the complex interactions, coupled with the sheer vastness of the geospace system, make it difficult to address this challenge. The global whole-atmosphere models have been able to produce the state of this coupled system in a statistical sense, yet the ability to reproduce or validate the instantaneous or small-scale dynamics is missing. This is primarily due to unavailability of key measurements of geophysical parameters characterizing plasma and neutral dynamics at various scales. Much about the neutral dynamics has been learned by measuring atomic oxygen as it is a dominant species in the thermosphere. However, historically the measurements have been conducted by stand-alone instruments with limited coverage and the large-scale system dynamics are not captured. We propose to create a distributed network of all-sky airglow imagers and Fabry-Perot interferometers measuring atomic oxygen nightglow and neutral winds to enable investigations of plasma-neutral dynamics caused both by lower atmospheric and magnetospheric forcing across a range of spatial and temporal scales in the mid- latitude region. The proposed network infrastructure will contain ten OI 557.7 nm airglow imagers in the southwestern United States, forming a contiguous field-of-view spanning 15-20 degrees in latitude/longitude, three FPIs with combined OI 630.0 nm and 557.7 nm capabilities, and augmentation of a previously deployed network of 630.0 nm imagers across the continental US extending into northern Mexico. The new combined network will provide overlapping 630.0 nm and 557.7 nm airglow images between approximately 25-45 degrees N, and 95-120 degrees W geographic regions, in addition to the thermospheric temperatures and neutral wind fields from the three FPIs. The data products will be made publicly available through a project website, the Madrigal database, and the NSF-funded Integrated Geosciences Observatory (InGeO) collaborative platform, and software products through a GitHub repository under an open source license.