Radio Science

On-orbit direction finding of lightning radio frequency emissions recorded by the FORTE satellite



[1] The recording of radio frequency signals from space potentially provides a means for global, near-real-time remote sensing of vigorous convective storms and a possible early warning system for convection-associated severe weather. In general, radio frequency signals arriving at a satellite with modest antenna gain do not directly reveal the ground location of those signals' source. We develop here a means of inferring the source location using repeated signal recordings from the same source storm, with the successive recordings taken along a significant segment of the satellite pass in view of the storm. The method is based on the ratio of received power on each of a pair of crossed dipole antennas. This method has a positional accuracy of 100–500 km. Moreover, the method has an intrinsic right-left (with respect to the subsatellite track) location ambiguity. A promising use of this technique in future applications will be as an aid in assigning lightning RF emission sources to meteorological features from other global remote-sensing products, for example satellite infrared imagery of clouds.