Accuracy of rocket measurements of lower ionosphere electron concentrations


  • E. A. Mechtly


Measurements of electron concentration taken at the same time and at the same place in the lower ionosphere by independent instrumentation mounted on the same rocket are described. The technique utilizes Faraday rotation and differential absorption of radio waves propagating from the ground to the rocket at two different frequencies. Agreement near 90 km within ±7%, ±6%, ±8%, and ±3% is demonstrated by the four available cases of coincidence in time and altitude. Maximum dispersion at other altitudes is calculated from known random errors. Stronger variation of electron collision frequency with altitude than with season is indicated by 34 measurements between 75 and 100 km. Insensitivity of electron concentration determinations at 72 km to errors in extrapolated collision frequency models is demonstrated. Partial reflection data are compared with rocket results in the one case of commonality in time and place.