Later this year, as part of the Spacelab 3 mission, a high-resolution infrared spectrometer will be flown in near-earth orbit. The experiment–Atmospheric Trace Molecule Spectroscopy–involves a series of flights over the next 15 years and is designed to obtain fundamental information related to the chemistry and physics of the upper atmosphere (i.e., the 15-120-km altitude range). There are two major aspects to the experiment: the first is the determination of the detailed compositional structure of the stratosphere and mesosphere and its global, seasonal, and long-term variability; the second is the study of the partitioning of absorbed solar energy at levels in the atmosphere characterized by dissociation of many of the constituents and by the breakdown of thermodynamic equilibrium.

© 1984 Optical Society of America

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