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Heliophysics Technology and Instrument Development for Science

TOMEX Plus: Turbulent Oxygen Mixing Experiment Plus

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Project Introduction

TOMEX Plus: Turbulent Oxygen Mixing Experiment Plus

The Turbulent Oxygen Mixing Experiment Plus (TOMEX+) is a sounding-rocket investigation proposed to the Low-Cost Access to Space portion of the Heliophysics Technology and Instrument Development for Science segment of the ROSES-2016 Research Announcement (appendix B.3). The specific science questions that will be addressed by the investigation include understanding the role of turbulence and other atmospheric disturbances in the dynamics and mixing of the upper atmosphere, and the characterization of these disturbances in three dimensions. TOMEX+ investigates atmospheric mixing in the mesosphere-lower thermosphere (MLT) using newly-developed ultraviolet lidar technology. The new technology, based on the ideas of McIlrath et al. [1979], directly resolves atomic oxygen density at fine scales. The investigation deploys the new lidar on a spinning sounding rocket to probe atomic oxygen density within a three-dimensional volume of the MLT. The investigation builds on the successful TOMEX sounding-rocket investigation of 2000 [Hecht et al., 2002] by augmenting its in-situ and ground-based measurements with the rocket-borne lidar measurements and state-of-the-art modeling capabilities. This work is motivated by the Heliophysics Division's goal to understand how geospace responds to a variable Sun. Specifically, this investigation will explore the physical processes in the space environment that work to mix the upper atmosphere, and will advance our understanding of the connections that link the Sun and the Earth’s atmosphere.

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