University of Oulu

Marshall RA, Xu W, Kero A, Kabirzadeh R and Sanchez E (2019) Atmospheric Effects of a Relativistic Electron Beam Injected From Above: Chemistry, Electrodynamics, and Radio Scattering. Front. Astron. Space Sci. 6:6. doi: 10.3389/fspas.2019.00006

Atmospheric effects of a relativistic electron beam injected from above : chemistry, electrodynamics, and radio scattering

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Author: Marshall, Robert A.1; Xu, Wei1; Kero, Antti2;
Organizations: 1Ann and H. J. Smead Department of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, United States
2Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Zoox, Inc., Menlo Park, CA, United States
4Center for Geospace Studies, SRI International, Menlo Park, CA, United States
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-09-13


We present numerical simulations and analysis of atmospheric effects of a beam of 1 MeV electrons precipitating in the upper atmosphere from above. Beam parameters of 100 J or 1 kJ injected in 100 ms or 1 s were chosen to reflect the current design requirements for a realistic mission. We calculate ionization signatures and optical emissions in the atmosphere, and estimate the detectability of optical signatures using photometers and cameras on the ground. Results show that both instruments should be able to detect the beam spot. Chemical simulations show that the production of odd nitrogen and odd hydrogen are minimal. We use electrostatic field simulations to show that the beam-induced electron density column can enhance thunderstorm electric fields at high altitudes enough to facilitate sprite triggering. Finally, we calculate signatures that would be observed by incoherent scatter radar (ISR) and subionospheric VLF remote sensing techniques, although the latter is hindered by the limitations of 2D simulations.

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Series: Frontiers in astronomy and space sciences
ISSN: 2296-987X
ISSN-E: 2296-987X
ISSN-L: 2296-987X
Volume: 6
Article number: 6
DOI: 10.3389/fspas.2019.00006
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 115 Astronomy and space science
Funding: This work was supported by NSF INSPIRE award 1344303 and NSF MAG award 1732359. AK was supported by the Tenure Track Project in Radio Science at Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory.
Copyright information: Copyright © 2019 Marshall, Xu, Kero, Kabirzadeh and Sanchez. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.