Analysis of rocket beacon transmissions for computerized reconstruction of ionospheric densities


  • P. A. Bernhardt,

  • J. D. Huba,

  • P. K. Chaturvedi,

  • J. A. Fulford,

  • P. A. Forsyth,

  • D. N. Anderson,

  • S. T. Zalesak


Three methods are described to obtain ionospheric electron densities from transionospheric, rocket-beacon total electron content (TEC) data. First, when the line-of-sight from a ground receiver to the rocket beacon is tangent to the flight trajectory, the electron concentration can be obtained by differentiating the TEC with respect to the distance to the rocket. A similar method may be used to obtain the electron-density profile if the layer is horizontally stratified. Second, TEC data obtained during chemical release experiments may be interpreted with the aid of physical models of the disturbed ionosphere to yield spatial maps of the modified regions. Third, computerized tomography (CT) can be used to analyze TEC data obtained along a chain of ground-based receivers aligned along the plane of the rocket trajectory. CT analysis of TEC data is used to reconstruct a two-dimensional image of a simulated equatorial plume. TEC data is computed for a linear chain of nine receivers with adjacent spacings of either 100 or 200 km. The simulation data are analyzed to provide an F region reconstruction on a grid with 15×15 km pixels. Ionospheric rocket tomography may also be applied to rocket-assisted measurements of amplitude and phase scintillations and airglow intensities.