Dr Ron Thomas - Research Interests



My research interests are lightning and the Earth's Upper Atmospheric. I am interested in the basic physics, the instrumentation for studying it and the analysis of data from the measurements. My primary interest is lightning, its detection, mapping of its structure in the clouds, understanding its growth and dynamics, and its relationship to the thunderstorm. I am working with a team of other engineers, physicists, and students from physics, EE, and CS. As part of this team designing lightning mapping systems, I am interested in optimizing the parameters for the best design and developing computer algorithms for data processing and visualization. New Mexico Tech's Lightning Mapping Array has become a highly successful instrument that is now a key component of all lightning measurement campaigns.

I have spent many years working on space born instruments and observations. My research interest in the atmosphere and instruments began as an undergraduate employee of New Mexico State University's Physical Science Laboratory providing Doppler tracking of rockets and satellites. As a thesis project at Utah State University, I developed a sensor to measure atomic oxygen in the lower thermosphere, using thin silver film, that was launched on a small rocket. At the University of Pittsburgh, my research turned to analysis of OGO-6 thermospheric atomic oxygen airglow. My research at the University of Colorado continued with rocket measurements of nitric oxide, atomic oxygen and related airglows. The later measurements greatly clarified the green line airglow production mechanism. My activity then turned to the Solar Mesosphere Explorer spacecraft experiments beginning with their conception and continuing through the design and calibration to final data analysis of ozone and oxygen airglows. Currently one side of my research concentrates complex data analysis methods to use measurements of optical emissions from the earth's ionosphere. The other side of my current research, as part of a NM Tech team, is the very successful development a system to map lightning inside clouds and now to analyze and understand the data. My record includes over 50 refereed publications and many more presentations.

Upper atmosphere links

Electrical Engineering Department
New Mexico Tech
Socorro, NM 87801
phone: (505) 835-5683
FAX: (505) 835-5332