Radio Science

Effects of artificially modified ionospheres on HF propagation: Negative Ion Cation Release Experiment 2 and CRRES Coqui experiments


  • T. Joseph Fitzgerald,

  • Paul E. Argo,

  • Robert C. Carlos


We report the results of measurements obtained in conjunction with a series of high-altitude chemical release experiments of effects of artificially modified ionospheres upon high-frequency, ionospherically reflected radio paths. Computer simulations indicate that under optimum conditions, ionospheric modifications induced by chemical releases could perturb or even disrupt a communication channel; our experiments corroborate this but also indicate that it is very difficult to actualize such disruptions. Our experiments have shown that an ionospheric depletion, in which the electron density hole forms a huge radio frequency lens, generates new modes which, however, do not significantly affect a communications system. Under optimum path geometry a signal strength decrease of 10 dB or more is possible for several tens of minutes. Enhancements, such as those produced by barium releases, act as reflecting mirrors that can create a large shadow zone on the ground and block off significant amounts of energy. We measured signal strength decreases of up to 20 dB.