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Michelson Interferometer for Global High-Resolution Thermospheric Imaging (MIGHTI): Instrument Design and Calibration


The Michelson Interferometer for Global High-resolution Thermospheric Imaging (MIGHTI) instrument was built for launch and operation on the NASA Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission. The instrument was designed to measure thermospheric horizontal wind velocity profiles and thermospheric temperature in altitude regions between 90 km and 300 km, during day and night. For the wind measurements it uses two perpendicular fields of view pointed at the Earth’s limb, observing the Doppler shift of the atomic oxygen red and green lines at 630.0 nm and 557.7 nm wavelength. The wavelength shift is measured using field-widened, temperature compensated Doppler Asymmetric Spatial Heterodyne (DASH) spectrometers, employing low order échelle gratings operating at two different orders for the different atmospheric lines. The temperature measurement is accomplished by a multichannel photometric measurement of the spectral shape of the molecular oxygen A-band around 762 nm wavelength. For each field of view, the signals of the two oxygen lines and the A-band are detected on different regions of a single, cooled, frame transfer charge coupled device (CCD) detector. On-board calibration sources are used to periodically quantify thermal drifts, simultaneously with observing the atmosphere. The MIGHTI requirements, the resulting instrument design and the calibration are described.

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ICON is supported by NASA’s Explorers Program through contracts NNG12FA45C and NNG12FA42I. We acknowledge helpful discussions and advice from Prof. Gordon Shepherd (York University). We acknowledge the dedication and tireless work of all engineers, technicians and administrative support on the MIGHTI and larger ICON team, including Rebecca Baugh, Patrick Bell, Joel Cardon, Angel Cerrato, James Cook, John Dancheck, Tori Fae, Tracy Heard, Steve Hershner, Lynn Hutting, Steve Kinaman, Will Marchant, Sally McCann, Miles Newman, David Nolan, John Pindell, Mark Ponton, Roger Prokic, Jack Sanders, John Shaw, Pedro Sevilla, Linda Smith, Tabetha Sykes, Steven Tanner, Warren Tolson, Emory Toomey, Drew Uhl, Mike Watson, Glenn Weigle, Vaz Zastera, and Dallas Zurcher.

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Correspondence to Christoph R. Englert.

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The Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission

Edited by Doug Rowland and Thomas J. Immel

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Englert, C.R., Harlander, J.M., Brown, C.M. et al. Michelson Interferometer for Global High-Resolution Thermospheric Imaging (MIGHTI): Instrument Design and Calibration. Space Sci Rev 212, 553–584 (2017).

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  • ICON Explorer mission
  • Thermospheric wind
  • Thermospheric temperature
  • Limb sounding
  • Spatial Heterodyne Spectroscopy