Title:  Modeling and Monitoring Earth’s Upper Atmosphere Energy Budget

Dr. Delores J. Knipp
University of Colorado Boulder


Though largely controlled by shortwave solar photons, Earth’s tenuous upper atmosphere, the thermosphere, responds vigorously to episodic energy inputs from the solar wind. Several paths exist for dissipation of the excess energy, most of which contribute to density perturbations that have operational consequences for low-earth satellite drag and tracking of orbital debris. In this presentation I will provide an overview of the physics of thermospheric density perturbations and the consequences for satellite orbit determination. In more detail I will discuss ongoing collaborations between researchers at University of Texas, Arlington and University of Colorado, Boulder, for high-resolution modeling of the upper atmosphere energy budget and high-cadence monitoring of the satellite orbital drag environment.