Composition Measurements of the Topside Ionosphere

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Science  20 Jan 1967:
Vol. 155, Issue 3760, pp. 322-324
DOI: 10.1126/science.155.3760.322


Data from a magnetic mass spectrometer flown on the Explorer 31 satellite show that the ionosphere above 1000 kilometers usually consists of hydrogen ions as the predominant species. Between this altitude and perigee (500 kilometers) the dominant ion species shifts to atomic oxygen, with a significant amount of atomic nitrogen ions also present. Helium ions are present in small quantities at all altitudes. Other minor ions observed are those of 2, 7, 8, 15, 18, and 20 atomic mass units.