Being able to resolve properties of the mesosphere with high spatial and temporal resolution is critical to properly characterizing dynamical features present. This is where the Advanced Mesospheric Temperature Mapper (AMTM) developed by Pautet et al. excels. By observing several emission lines associated with the well-known hydroxyl (OH) bands, this instrument can estimate the temperature of the mesosphere at around 87-km altitude. The emission lines observed by the AMTM were chosen such that the instrument would perform well, even in the presence of strong aurora, which contaminate observations made by previous mesospheric temperature mappers. The AMTM is fronted by a 120° wide-angle fish-eye lens, and temperature and emission intensity measurements are obtained at a spatial resolution of about 500 m over more than 25,000 km2. Thanks to improvements in InGaAs detector technology, the AMTM can do this with excellent accuracy – less than 4 K – with about a factor of six improvement in temporal cadence and factor of four improvement in spatial resolution when compared to previous instruments making comparable measurements. Indeed, the AMTM was cross-calibrated to the well-proven mesospheric lidar system operated by Utah State University with impressive results.
The AMTM is a robust instrument that will provide a new view of fundamental processes at the boundary between our world and space. It can be operated remotely for long periods of time, which is fortunate when it is deployed to such harsh environments as the South Pole, where our understanding of upper atmospheric wave dynamics is minimal. The AMTM opens up a new window into understanding our environment in unprecedented detail.
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