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Kozlovsky, A., Shalimov, S., and Lester, M. (2017), Mesospheric plasma irregularities caused by the missile destruction on 9 December 2009, J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 122, 6696– 6707, doi:10.1002/2017JA024300

Mesospheric plasma irregularities caused by the missile destruction on 9 December 2009

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Author: Kozlovsky, Alexander1; Shalimov, Sergey2,3,4; Lester, Mark5
Organizations: 1Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory, Sodankylä, Finland
2Institute of Physics of the Earth RAS, Moscow, Russia
3Space Research Institute, Moscow, Russia
4National Research Center “Kurchatov Institute”, Moscow, Russia
5Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.1 MB)
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Language: English
Published: American Geophysical Union, 2017
Publish Date: 2019-09-24


On 9 December 2009 at about 07 UT a solid propellant 36.8 t ballistic rocket was self‐destroyed at an altitude of 170–260 km, at a distance of about 500 km to the east of Sodankylä Geophysical Observatory (SGO, 67°22′N, 26°38′E, Finland). After 2–3 h the SGO meteor radar (operating at a frequency 36.9 MHz) received unusual echoes, which indicate turbulence of ionospheric plasma (irregularities of electron density) with a temporal scale on the order of 0.1 s and a spatial scale of a few to tens of meters. The turbulence occurred at a height of about 80 km and was localized in several areas of about 60 km in horizontal scale. Line‐of‐sight velocity of the irregularities was up to a few tens of meters per second toward the radar. The event occurred in the winter high‐latitude mesosphere during extremely low solar and geomagnetic activity. Aerosol particles caused by the missile explosion played a key role in producing the electron density irregularities. As a possible explanation, we suggest that sedimented by gravity and, hence, moving with respect to the air, charged aerosol particles (presumably composed of aluminum oxide) might produce meter‐scale irregularities (electrostatic waves) via dissipative instability, which is a mechanism analogous to that of the resistive beam‐plasma instability.

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Series: Journal of geophysical research. Space physics
ISSN: 2169-9380
ISSN-E: 2169-9402
ISSN-L: 2169-9380
Volume: 122
Issue: 6
Pages: 6696 - 6707
DOI: 10.1002/2017JA024300
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 115 Astronomy and space science
Funding: S.S. acknowledges support from the Academy of Finland grant 287916. M.L. acknowledges support from Natural Environment Research Council grant NE/K011766/1.
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 287916
Detailed Information: 287916 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2017. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.