The CRISTA/MAHRSI experiment on board a space shuttle was accompanied by a broad campaign of rocket, balloon and ground-based measurements. Supporting lower ionospheric ground-based measurements were run in Europe and Eastern Asia between 1 October-30 November, 1994. Results of comparisons with long ionospheric data series together with short-term comparisons inside the interval October-November, 1994, showed that the upper middle atmosphere (h = 80-100 km) at middle latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere in the interval of the CRISTA/ MAHRSI experiment (4-12 November, 1994) was very close to its expected climatological state. In other words, the average results of the experiment can be used as climatological data, at least for the given area/altitudes. The role of solar/geomagnetic and "meteorological" control of the lower ionosphere is investigated and compared with the results of MAP/WINE, MAC/SINE and DYANA campaigns. The effects of both solar/ geomagnetic and global meteorological factors on the lower ionosphere are found to be weak during autumn 1994 compared to those in MAP/WINE and DYANA winters, and they are even slightly weaker than those in MAP/SINE summer. The comparison of the four campaigns suggests the following overall pattern: in winter the lower ionosphere at northern middle latitudes appears to be fairly well "meteorologically" controlled with a very weak solar influence. In summer, solar influence is somewhat stronger and dominates the weak "meteorological" influence, but the overall solar/meteorological control is weaker than in winter. In autumn we find the weakest overall solar/meteorological control, local effects evidently dominate.