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EXCITATION OF NITRIC OXIDE AND ATOMIC OXYGEN IN AFTERGLOW SOURCES
CALIFORNIA UNIV LOS ANGELES
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The afterglow emission intensities of the nitrogen first positive bands, the nitric oxide beta, gamma, and delta bands, and the atomic oxygen green line were examined under conditions in which the constituents of the afterglow source were varied chemically. The nature of the particles that interact to produce excited nitric oxide molecules and excited oxygen atoms in afterglow sources were determined. The results were applied to the excitation of atomic oxygen in the upper atmosphere of the earth. In the past, the excitation of atomic oxygen in the upper atmosphere has been explained by the Chapman process in which three oxygen atoms collided to form molecular oxygen and excited atomic oxygen in the 1S state. The laboratory experiments presented here do not support the Chapman process under favorable conditions for the Chapman process, the intensity of the atomic oxygen green line approached zero. The excitation process that gives rise to the green line in laboratory afterflows probably is not operative in the upper atomophere because of the expected low density of atomic nitrogen at altitudes where emission of OI 5577 originates. Author
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE