Ionospheric research opportunity



Ground-based explosions have been exploited successfully in the past as a relatively controlled source for producing ionospheric disturbances. On June 25, the Defense Nuclear Agency will conduct a high explosives test on the northern section of the White Sands Missile Range. Approximately 4,800 tons of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil (ANFO) will be detonated at ground level, producing an acoustic shock wave with a surface pressure change of approximately 20 mbar at a 6 km range. This shock front will have sufficient strength to propagate into the ionosphere with at least a 10% change in the ambient pressure across the disturbance front in the lower F region. Such an ionospheric perturbation will give ionospheric researchers an excellent opportunity to investigate acoustic propagation at ionospheric heights, shock dissipation effect, the ion-neutral coupling process, acoustic-gravity wave (traveling ionospheric disturbance) generation mechanisms, and associated RF phenomena.