A Theoretical Framework for Photoionization and Photodetachment Rate Calculations in the Lower Ionosphere

Project: Research project

Project Details


This award will support the development of a modeling framework for photoionization and photo-detachment rates of metallic species generated by meteoric ablation events. The sources are multiple EUV, UV, and visible systems of O2 and N2 molecular band emissions that might be generated by transient luminous events (sprites, elves, lightning), auroral activity, and meteor trails. These results would make possible specific calculations for the D-region and lower thermosphere sporadic layers of possible localized effects upon ionospheric composition or ionospheric dynamics featuring spatial scales a few kms in extent. A graduate student and summer undergraduate students would be supported in this work.

This work is based primarily upon the fact that the photo-ionization thresholds of metallic species is quite low relative to the ionization thresholds of other atmospheric constituents such as N2 or O2. Thus, the illumination sources of TLE, aurora, and meteor trails would be sufficiently energetic to achieve the ionization of neutral metallic species or the detachment of electrons from any ionospheric negative ions present within the region affected by meteors or precipitating electrons or TLE activity.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date6/1/205/31/23


  • National Science Foundation: $351,219.00


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