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Radio Science

Arecibo heating experiments


  • W. E. Gordon,

  • H. C. Carlson Jr.


Enhancements of various features of the incoherent scatter spectrum are observed when the ionosphere is illuminated with powerful, high frequency radio waves. The radio waves excite plasma instabilities producing lines or more complex spectral features near the local plasma frequency, at the local ion acoustic frequency, near the local gyrofrequency, and near twice the gyrofrequency. The enhancements occur in a thin slab as observed by the incoherent scatter radar and at both upshifted and downshifted frequencies with respect to the probing radar frequency. The enhancements are observed to vary with time when the excitation is held constant and is turned on or off.

The high power radio waves are produced by a 160 kw transmitter feeding a log-periodic pair of curtains mounted at the focus of the 1000-ft reflector and covering the frequency range from 5 to 12 MHz. The effects are observed with the incoherent scatter radar using the same reflector and with ionosondes and photometers.

The frequencies of the enhanced plasma line and the ion line and their relation to the pump (high frequency radio wave) frequency are predictable from available parametric instability theory. Other spectral features are being explained as the theory develops with the help of the observations. There remain some discrepancies, in particular the asymmetries in intensity, width, and fluctuations of the upshifted compared to the downshifted plasma lines.

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