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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 36, issue 4
Ann. Geophys., 36, 1141-1152, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Special issue: Dynamics and interaction of processes in the Earth and its...

Ann. Geophys., 36, 1141-1152, 2018
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Regular paper 24 Aug 2018

Regular paper | 24 Aug 2018

An empirical model of the thermospheric mass density derived from CHAMP satellite

Chao Xiong1, Hermann Lühr1, Michael Schmidt2, Mathis Bloßfeld2, and Sergei Rudenko2 Chao Xiong et al.
  • 1GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Deutsches Geodätisches Forschungsinstitut at the Technische Universität München (DGFI-TUM), Arcisstr. 21, 80333 Munich, Germany

Abstract. In this study, we present an empirical model, named CH-Therm-2018, of the thermospheric mass density derived from 9-year (from August 2000 to July 2009) accelerometer measurements from the CHAllenging Mini-satellite Payload (CHAMP) satellite at altitudes from 460 to 310km. The CHAMP dataset is divided into two 5-year periods with 1-year overlap (from August 2000 to July 2005 and from August 2004 to July 2009) to represent the high-to-moderate and moderate-to-low solar activity conditions, respectively. The CH-Therm-2018 model describes the thermospheric density as a function of seven key parameters, namely the height, solar flux index, season (day of year), magnetic local time, geographic latitude and longitude, as well as magnetic activity represented by the solar wind merging electric field. Predictions of the CH-Therm-2018 model agree well with CHAMP observations (within 20%) and show different features of thermospheric mass density during the two solar activity levels, e.g., the March–September equinox asymmetry and the longitudinal wave pattern. From the analysis of satellite laser ranging (SLR) observations of the ANDE-Pollux satellite during August–September 2009, we estimate 6h scaling factors of the thermospheric mass density provided by our model and obtain the median value equal to 1.267±0.60. Subsequently, we scale up our CH-Therm-2018 mass density predictions by a scale factor of 1.267. We further compare the CH-Therm-2018 predictions with the Naval Research Laboratory Mass Spectrometer Incoherent Scatter Radar Extended (NRLMSISE-00) model. The result shows that our model better predicts the density evolution during the last solar minimum (2008–2009) than the NRLMSISE-00 model.

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