Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, vol. 11, issue 18 (2011) pp. 9595-9603
The recent finding of an orange spectral feature in OSIRIS/Odin spectra of the night airglow near 87 km has raised interest in the origin of the emission. The feature was positively identified as the chemiluminescent FeO* emission where the iron is of meteoric origin. Since the meteorite source of atomic metals in the mesosphere contains both iron and nickel, with Ni being typically 6 % of Fe, it is expected that faint emissions involving Ni should also be present in the night airglow. The present study summarizes the laboratory observations of chemiluminescent NiO* emissions and includes a search for the NiO* signature in the night airglow. A very faint previously unidentified "continuum" extending longwave of 440 nm has been detected in the night airglow spectra obtained with two space-borne limb viewing instruments. Through a comparison with laboratory spectra this continuum is identified as arising from the NiO* emission. The altitude profile of the new airglow emission has also been measured. The similarity of the altitude profiles of the FeO* and NiO* emissions also suggests the emission is NiO as both can originate from reaction of the metal atoms with mesospheric ozone. The observed NiO* to FeO* ratio exhibits considerable variability; possible causes of this observed variation are briefly discussed.
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