Stellar Refraction: A Tool to Monitor the Height of the Tropopause from Space

Donald W. Schuerman Dudley Observatory and The State University of New York at Albany, Albany 12205

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Frank Giovane Dudley Observatory and The State University of New York at Albany, Albany 12205

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J. Mayo Greenberg Dudley Observatory and The State University of New York at Albany, Albany 12205

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Abstract

Calculations of stellar refraction for a setting or rising star as viewed from a spacecraft show that the tropopause is a discernable feature in a plot of refraction vs time. The height of the tropopause is easily obtained from such a plot. Since the refraction suffered by the starlight appears to be measurable with some precision from orbital altitudes, we suggest this technique as a method for remotely monitoring the height of the tropopause. Although limited to nighttime measurements, the method is independent of supporting data or model fitting and easily lends itself to on-line data reduction.

Abstract

Calculations of stellar refraction for a setting or rising star as viewed from a spacecraft show that the tropopause is a discernable feature in a plot of refraction vs time. The height of the tropopause is easily obtained from such a plot. Since the refraction suffered by the starlight appears to be measurable with some precision from orbital altitudes, we suggest this technique as a method for remotely monitoring the height of the tropopause. Although limited to nighttime measurements, the method is independent of supporting data or model fitting and easily lends itself to on-line data reduction.

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