Plasma instabilities stimulated by HF transmitters in space


  • Robert F. Benson,

  • Adolfo F. Viñas


Diffuse incoherent signal returns are often observed on Alouette and ISIS topside ionograms in addition to coherent echoes of electromagnetic and electrostatic waves. These diffuse signals, which at times can be the dominant features on topside ionograms, have been attributed to sounder-induced temperature anisotropies which drive the Harris instability. Previous theoretical investigations were based on the electrostatic approximation to the dispersion equation. The present paper will present calculations indicating that when the electromagnetic terms are retained in the dispersion equation and when the sounder-stimulated perpendicular electron temperature approaches 1 keV, then the whistler mode can have a temporal growth rate larger than the electrostatic electron cyclotron harmonic wave mode central to the diffuse resonance problem. Present sounders lack the power and antenna lengths to generate whistler mode waves in this manner. In addition, such waves would have large group velocities and would quickly leave the vicinity of the sounder. Experiments to investigate the wave growth, propagation, and damping of such stimulated waves are planned for the 1990s using a highly flexible sounder on the space shuttle and a receiver on a subsatellite.