Assessment of Processes Related to Plasma Irregularities.
Final rept. 15 May-31 Dec 77,
LOCKHEED MISSILES AND SPACE CO INC PALO ALTO CALIF PALO ALTO RESEARCH LAB
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The occurrence of plasma irregularities that affect radio-wave propagation is assessed both for naturally-occurring disturbances and for disturbances resulting from a high-altitude nuclear explosion. Data obtained with the S3-3 satellite reveal that high electrostatic potential differences - to 8 kV - with associated plasma irregularities, often occur along the magnetic field at high latitudes. In a detailed analysis of electron and ion pitch-angle and energy distributions measured on the satellite, the potential differences below and above the satellite, and the potential distribution above the satellite, were determined. The properties of the potential structure, together with concurrent observations of electrostatic waves, indicate that the potential is supported by anomalous resistivity. Analysis of the wideband data reveals that the scintillation activity has a spatial structure and occurrence similar to those of discrete auroral arcs and electric fields. The general morphology of the scintillations at high latitudes is described, and some interpretations of the data are suggested. The electric fields and currents induced by the debris plasma and fission beta-decay electrons in the magnetosphere due to a high-altitude nuclear explosion are estimated. For large bursts, the currents, both along and across the magnetic field, exceed well-established plasma-instability criteria, resulting in the formation of plasma irregularities. The region over which they are expected to occur extends as much as 60 deg in longitude east of the burst and, north of the burst, to latitudes near the auroral zone. Author
- Atmospheric Physics
- Radio Communications