Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Electrical Engineering


Birchfield, Stanley

Committee Member

Larsen , Miguel

Committee Member

Burg , Timothy


The neutral winds are a key parameter in the electrodynamics of the ionosphere. The available techniques for measuring vertical neutral wind profiles, especially with good height resolution, are extremely limited. This is especially true with sounding rocket flights as it is not practical to take direct measurements of neutral winds with onboard instruments. Chemical releases from sounding rockets, however, allow such measurements by providing a tracer of the motion of the neutral atmosphere at altitudes in the mesosphere and lower thermosphere (MLT). The resulting chemiluminescent trail is typically photographed from two or more locations to track neutral motions. Triangulation based on these photographs then yields position information at each instant when simultaneous photographs are available from different locations. The resulting time series of position information can then be used to obtain a neutral wind profile. A technique is presented that improves this existing triangulation procedure by implementing computer vision-based automation techniques and an improved tracking algorithm that can accommodate non-simultaneous image data more easily and can provide better continuity in the motions inferred from consecutive images. Neutral wind profiles from the Joule II and HEX II sounding rocket experiments are presented and compared with results from the previous method.