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Three Flights Into Thunderstorms with the Revised Rocket Electric Field Sounding (REFS) Payload
Instrumentation papers Oct 1991-Jul 1993
PHILLIPS LAB HANSCOM AFB MA
Pagination or Media Count:
Three sounding rockets were launched into thunderstorms from the Langmuir Laboratory in New Mexico during July, 1992, to measure profiles of the ambient vector electrostatic field. The eight individual, shutter field mills on each of these rockets had a nominal full-scale range of -900 kVm and sensitivity of 225 Vm. The electric-field soundings passed several self- consistency tests and were corroborated by measurements from the surface and from both tethered and free balloons. Mill noise levels of less than 450 Vm, as well as other error sources, yielded a relative uncertainty of the measured ambient field components less than 1 kVm flight. Absolute calibrations of both the longitudinal and the transverse field components relative to the rocket axis of symmetry were accurate to -10 or better. Field magnitudes greater than 8OkVm and electrostatic potential magnitudes over 120 MV were encountered inside the storms. The average field driving one natural cloud-to-ground lightning flash was estimated at 30 kVm or less. Grounded triggering rockets were launched immediately after each sounding rocket, but no lightning was triggered, suggesting that ambient fields of 10 kVm over the lowest 500 m were not sufficient to trigger lightning with the rocket-and-wire technique. Lightning, Field mills, Triggered lightning, Rocket, Electric fields.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE