Ultraviolet emissions quantified by rocket payloads

Deborah A. Levin, Leonard H. Caveny, David M. Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Plumes and aerodynamic shock structures of rockets produce prominent ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) emissions. The extensive literature explains many aspects of the JR emission: Whereas the UV emissions are less well understood and have only recently been quantified. Hypervelocity missiles in the continuum and near-continuum atmosphere produce high temperature shocklayers (i.e., 8000K for speeds of 5km/sec). Atmospheric molecular oxygen and nitrogen react and the products are excited to produce nitrogen oxide molecular-band radiation. Previous papers describe two rocket flight experiments that obtained in-situ radiometric UV data with onboard instruments directly viewing the shocklayer and plume regions. An example of data obtained were the well defmed spectra of NO(y43) emission with signal strengths on the order of 0.OO1W/cm2sr for a rocket velocity of 5km/sec at 70km. This radiance was 15 times stronger than recent theoretical predictions and is observable using present detector systems. The UV radiance and backgrounds data that has been collect from these rocket flights and the LACEIUVPI satellite program implies a systems utility. In addition a third experiment is being planned to extend the velocity to 7km/sec. Scanning spectrometers and photometers will observe the shock plume interactions. Angular scanning is being included to define the structures of the far field plume. The area of greatest uncertainty and potential opportunity will be described in terms of the mechanistic understanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-399
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Jan 22 1993
Externally publishedYes
EventUltraviolet Technology IV 1992 - San Diego, United States
Duration: Jul 22 1992 → …

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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