Letter | Published:

Nitrogen dioxide emitted from space shuttle surfaces and shuttle glow

Nature volume 321, pages 147148 (08 May 1986) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

Photographs taken on early space shuttle flights have indicated the presence of a surface glow in the ram direction1. Examination of airglow data from the AE and DE satellites has shown, the presence of a similar glow2, suggesting that the phenomenon is general to spacecraft in low Earth orbit, with the emission being concentrated in the ram direction. Several explanations have been offered for the glow: (1) OH formed by surface reactions of fast 0 atoms3; (2) plasma discharge mechanism4; (3) surface-induced decomposition of N2 followed by recombination into an excited state5; (4) surface emission by impact of O2 and O (ref. 6); and (5) near-continuum emission (at a resolution of 3.4 nm) in the region 400–800 nm from electronically excited NO2 (ref. 7). With reference to the last hypothesis we discuss here data on the number density of NO2 measured inside the payload bay of the shuttle orbiter. We also derive fluxes of NO2 near shuttle surfaces. Our data are shown to be consistent with the hypothesis of the glow being caused by NO2 emission.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    Aviat. Week Space Tech. 116, 19, 14 (1982).

  2. 2.

    & J. Geophys. Res. Lett. 10, 126–129 (1983).

  3. 3.

    Geophys. Res. Lett. 10, 130–132 (1983).

  4. 4.

    Radio Sci. 19, 571–577 (1984).

  5. 5.

    Geophys. Res. Lett. 11, 576–579 (1984).

  6. 6.

    Geophys. Res. Lett. 12, 453–456 (1985).

  7. 7.

    , & Geophys. Res. Lett. 12, 97–100 (1985).

  8. 8.

    & . J. geophys. Res. 91, 3270–3278 (1986).

  9. 9.

    , , , , & J. chem. Phys. 73, 303–308 (1980).

  10. 10.

    & J. chem. Phys. 69, 2492–2496 (1978).

  11. 11.

    & in Proc. AIAA Meet. Shuttle Environment and Operations, Washington (1982).

  12. 12.

    & J. chem. Phys. 51, 1286–1302 (1969).

  13. 13.

    et al. J. Space Rock. 23, 189–193 (1986).

  14. 14.

    , , & Bull. Am. ceram. Soc. 60, 1188–1193 (1981).

  15. 15.

    NASA Handbook, Space Shuttle System Payload Accommodations Vol. XIV (Rev. HJSC-07700, 1983).

  16. 16.

    & J. geophys. Res. 84, 839–844 (1979).

  17. 17.

    An Introduction to Chemisorption and Catalysis by Metals 190–197 (Oxford University Press, New York, 1985).

  18. 18.

    & Planet. Space Sci. (in the press).

  19. 19.

    J. Chem. Phys. 73, 6333–6342 (1980).

  20. 20.

    Planet. Space Sci. 28, 225–243 (1980).

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Physikalisches Institut, Universität Bonn, 5300 Bonn 1, FRG

    • Ulf von Zahn
  2. Air Force Geophysics Laboratory, Hanscom AFB, Massachusetts 01731, USA

    • Edmond Murad

Authors

  1. Search for Ulf von Zahn in:

  2. Search for Edmond Murad in:

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/321147a0

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.