New thermosphere neutral mass density and crosswind datasets from CHAMP, GRACE, and GRACE-FO

C. Siemes, Claudia Borries, S. Bruinsma, I. Fernandez-Gomez, N.A. Hladczuk, J.A.A. van den IJssel, T. Kodikara, K. Vielberg, P.N.A.M. Visser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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We present new neutral mass density and crosswind observations for the CHAMP, GRACE, and GRACE-FO missions, filling the last gaps in our database of accelerometer-derived thermosphere observations. For consistency, we processed the data over the entire lifetime of these missions, noting that the results for GRACE in 2011- 2017 and GRACE-FO are entirely new. All accelerometer data are newly calibrated. We modeled the temperature-induced bias variations for the GRACE accelerometer data to counter the detrimental effects of the accelerometer thermal control deactivation in April 2011. Further, we developed a new radiation pressure model, which uses ray tracing to account for shadowing and multiple reflections and calculates the satellitea's thermal emissions based on the illumination history. The advances in calibration and radiation pressure modeling are essential when the radiation pressure acceleration is significant compared to the aerodynamic one above 450 km altitude during low solar activity, where the GRACE and GRACE-FO satellites spent a considerable fraction of their mission lifetime. The mean of the new density observations changes only marginally, but their standard deviation shows a substantial reduction compared to thermosphere models, up to 15% for GRACE in 2009. The mean and standard deviation of the new GRACE-FO density observations are in good agreement with the GRACE observations. The GRACE and CHAMP crosswind observations agree well with the physics-based TIE-GCM winds, particularly the polar wind patterns. The mean observed crosswind is a few tens of m·s-1 larger than the model one, which we attribute primarily to the crosswind errors being positive by the definition of the retrieval algorithm. The correlation between observed and model crosswind is about 60%, except for GRACE in 2004- 2011 when the signal was too small to retrieve crosswinds reliably.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-644
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Space Weather and Space Climate
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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