Abstract

The ir transmission of the terrestrial atmosphere is calculated at four altitudes of interest: Mauna Kea at 4.2 km (2–1000 μm), aircraft at 14 km (5–1000 μm), and balloon at 28 km and 41 km (10–1000 μm). We show both high resolution spectra (0.05 cm−1) and broadband averages. The results are intended to serve both as a detailed guide to the interference that is expected from the atmosphere for astronomical spectroscopy and also as an indicator of the relative change in absorption and emission that can be expected at various observing altitudes. One salient result for the spectral region around 100 μm is that the absorption (and emissivity) of the atmosphere drops by a factor of 10 for each increase in altitude of 15 km throughout the aircraft and balloon range; thus balloon-borne astronomical photometry and spectroscopy should both enjoy a considerable advantage over aircraft observations in the 30–300-μm region.

© 1976 Optical Society of America

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