Validation of ICON-MIGHTI Thermospheric Wind Observations: 2. Green-Line Comparisons to Specular Meteor Radars

Brian J. Harding, Jorge L. Chau, Maosheng He, Christoph R. Englert, John M. Harlander, Kenneth D. Marr, Jonathan J. Makela, Matthias Clahsen, Guozhu Li, M. Venkat Ratnam, S. Vijaya Bhaskar Rao, Yen Jung J. Wu, Scott L. England, Thomas J. Immel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We compare coincident thermospheric neutral wind observations made by the Michelson Interferometer for Global High-Resolution Thermospheric Imaging (MIGHTI) on the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) spacecraft, and four ground-based specular meteor radars (SMRs). Using the green-line MIGHTI channel, we analyze 1158 coincidences between Dec 2019 and May 2020 in the altitude range from 94 to 104 km where the observations overlap. We find that the two datasets are strongly correlated (r = 0.82) with a small mean difference (4.5 m/s). Although this agreement is good, an analysis of known error sources (e.g., shot noise, calibration errors, and analysis assumptions) can only account for about a quarter of the disagreement variance. The unexplained variance is 27.8% of the total signal variance and could be caused by unknown errors. However, based on an analysis of the spatial and temporal averaging of the two measurement modalities, we suggest that some of the disagreement is likely caused by temporal variability of the wind on scales ≲70 min. The observed magnitudes agree well during the night, but during the day, MIGHTI observes 16%–25% faster winds than the SMRs. This remains unresolved but is similar in certain ways to previous SMR-satellite comparisons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020JA028947
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • ICON
  • ground-space comparison
  • neutral wind
  • thermosphere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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