Using geomagnetic birefringence to locate sources of impulsive, terrestrial VHF signals detected by satellites on orbit


  • Abram R. Jacobson,

  • Xuan-Min Shao


The Earth's ionosphere is magnetized by the geomagnetic field and imposes birefringent modulation on VHF radio signals propagating through the ionosphere. Satellites viewing VHF emissions from terrestrial sources receive ordinary and extraordinary modes successively from each broadband pulse emitted by the source. The birefringent intermode frequency separation can be used to determine the value of ƒce cos β, where ƒce is the electron gyrofrequency and β is the angle between the wave vector k and the geomagnetic field B at the point where the VHF ray path intersects the ionosphere. Successive receptions of multiple signals (from the same source) cause variation in ƒce cos β, and from the resulting variation in the signal intermode frequency separation the source location on Earth can be inferred. We test the method with signals emitted by the Los Alamos Portable Pulser and received by the FORTE satellite.