Posts Tagged ionosphere

Recent Postings from ionosphere

Sensing the Earth's low ionosphere during solar flares using VLF signals and GOES X-ray data

An analysis of D-region electron density height profile variations, induced by four isolated solar X-ray flares during period from September 2005 to December 2006, based on the amplitude and the phase delay perturbation of 22.1 kHz signal trace from Skelton (54.72 N, 2.88 W) to Belgrade (44.85 N, 20.38 E), coded GQD, was carried out. Solar flare data were taken from NOAA GOES12 satellite one-minute listings. For VLF data acquisition and recordings at the Institute of Physics, Belgrade, Serbia, the AbsPAL system was used. Starting from LWPCv21 code (Ferguson, 1998), the variations of the Earth-ionosphere waveguide characteristic parameters, sharpness and reflection height, were estimated during the flare conditions. It was found that solar flare events affected the VLF wave propagation in the Earth-ionosphere waveguide by changing the lower ionosphere electron density height profile, in a different way, for different solar flare events.

Numerical Simulations Of The Effect Of Localised Ionospheric Perturbations On Subionospheric VLF Propagation

Electron density and temperature changes in the D-region of the ionosphere are sensitively manifested as changes in the amplitude and phase of subionospheric Very Low Frequency (VLF) signals propagating beneath the perturbed region. Disturbances (either in electron density or temperature) in the D region cause significant scattering of VLF waves propagating in the earth-ionosphere waveguide, leading to measurable changes in the amplitude and phase of the VLF waves. We analyze Lightning-induced electron precipitation (LEP) events during period 2008 – 2009 at Belgrade station on subionospheric VLF signals from four transmitters (DHO/23.4 kHz, Germany; GQD/22.1 kHz, UK; NAA/24.0 kHz USA and ICV/20.9 kHz Italy).

The Multi-Species Farley-Buneman Instability in the Solar Chromosphere

Empirical models of the solar chromosphere show intense electron heating immediately above its temperature minimum. Mechanisms such as resistive dissipation and shock waves appear insufficient to account for the persistence and uniformity of this heating as inferred from both UV lines and continuum measurements. This paper further develops the theory of the Farley-Buneman Instability (FBI) which could contribute substantially to this heating. It expands upon the single ion theory presented by Fontenla (2005) by developing a multiple ion species approach that better models the diverse, metal-dominated ion plasma of the solar chromosphere. This analysis generates a linear dispersion relationship that predicts the critical electron drift velocity needed to trigger the instability. Using careful estimates of collision frequencies and a one-dimensional, semi-empirical model of the chromosphere, this new theory predicts that the instability may be triggered by velocities as low as 4 km s^-1, well below the neutral acoustic speed. In the Earth’s ionosphere, the FBI occurs frequently in situations where the instability trigger speed significantly exceeds the neutral. From this, we expect neutral flows rising from the photosphere to have enough energy to easily create electric fields and electron Hall drifts with sufficient amplitude to make the FBI common in the chromosphere. If so, this process will provide a mechanism to convert neutral flow and turbulence energy into electron thermal energy in the quiet Sun.

The Multi-Species Farley-Buneman Instability in the Solar Chromosphere [Replacement]

Empirical models of the solar chromosphere show intense electron heating immediately above its temperature minimum. Mechanisms such as resistive dissipation and shock waves appear insufficient to account for the persistence and uniformity of this heating as inferred from both UV lines and continuum measurements. This paper further develops the theory of the Farley-Buneman Instability (FBI) which could contribute substantially to this heating. It expands upon the single ion theory presented by Fontenla (2005) by developing a multiple ion species approach that better models the diverse, metal-dominated ion plasma of the solar chromosphere. This analysis generates a linear dispersion relationship that predicts the critical electron drift velocity needed to trigger the instability. Using careful estimates of collision frequencies and a one-dimensional, semi-empirical model of the chromosphere, this new theory predicts that the instability may be triggered by velocities as low as 4 km s^-1, well below the neutral acoustic speed. In the Earth’s ionosphere, the FBI occurs frequently in situations where the instability trigger speed significantly exceeds the neutral acoustic speed. From this, we expect neutral flows rising from the photosphere to have enough energy to easily create electric fields and electron Hall drifts with sufficient amplitude to make the FBI common in the chromosphere. If so, this process will provide a mechanism to convert neutral flow and turbulence energy into electron thermal energy in the quiet Sun.

The Multi-Species Farley-Buneman Instability in the Solar Chromosphere [Replacement]

Empirical models of the solar chromosphere show intense electron heating immediately above its temperature minimum. Mechanisms such as resistive dissipation and shock waves appear insufficient to account for the persistence and uniformity of this heating as inferred from both UV lines and continuum measurements. This paper further develops the theory of the Farley-Buneman Instability (FBI) which could contribute substantially to this heating. It expands upon the single ion theory presented by Fontenla (2005) by developing a multiple ion species approach that better models the diverse, metal-dominated ion plasma of the solar chromosphere. This analysis generates a linear dispersion relationship that predicts the critical electron drift velocity needed to trigger the instability. Using careful estimates of collision frequencies and a one-dimensional, semi-empirical model of the chromosphere, this new theory predicts that the instability may be triggered by velocities as low as 4 km s^-1, well below the neutral acoustic speed. In the Earth’s ionosphere, the FBI occurs frequently in situations where the instability trigger speed significantly exceeds the neutral acoustic speed. From this, we expect neutral flows rising from the photosphere to have enough energy to easily create electric fields and electron Hall drifts with sufficient amplitude to make the FBI common in the chromosphere. If so, this process will provide a mechanism to convert neutral flow and turbulence energy into electron thermal energy in the quiet Sun.

Lunar Imaging and Ionospheric Calibration for the Lunar Cherenkov Technique [Replacement]

The Lunar Cherenkov technique is a promising method for UHE neutrino and cosmic ray detection which aims to detect nanosecond radio pulses produced during particle interactions in the Lunar regolith. For low frequency experiments, such as NuMoon, the frequency dependent dispersive effect of the ionosphere is an important experimental concern as it reduces the pulse amplitude and subsequent chances of detection. We are continuing to investigate a new method to calibrate the dispersive effect of the ionosphere on lunar Cherenkov pulses via Faraday rotation measurements of the Moon’s polarised emission combined with geomagnetic field models. We also extend this work to include radio imaging of the Lunar surface, which provides information on the physical and chemical properties of the lunar surface that may affect experimental strategies for the lunar Cherenkov technique.

Lunar Imaging and Ionospheric Calibration for the Lunar Cherenkov Technique

The Lunar Cherenkov technique is a promising method for UHE neutrino and cosmic ray detection which aims to detect nanosecond radio pulses produced during particle interactions in the Lunar regolith. For low frequency experiments, such as NuMoon, the frequency dependent dispersive effect of the ionosphere is an important experimental concern as it reduces the pulse amplitude and subsequent chances of detection. We are continuing to investigate a new method to calibrate the dispersive effect of the ionosphere on lunar Cherenkov pulses via Faraday rotation measurements of the Moon’s polarised emission combined with geomagnetic field models. We also extend this work to include radio imaging of the Lunar surface, which provides information on the physical and chemical properties of the lunar surface that may affect experimental strategies for the lunar Cherenkov technique.

Ionospheric propagation effects for UHE neutrino detection with the lunar Cherenkov technique

Lunar Cherenkov experiments aim to detect nanosecond pulses of Cherenkov emission produced during UHE cosmic ray or neutrino interactions in the lunar regolith. Pulses from these interactions are dispersed, and therefore reduced in amplitude, during propagation through the Earth’s ionosphere. Pulse dispersion must therefore be corrected to maximise the received signal to noise ratio and subsequent chances of detection. The pulse dispersion characteristic may also provide a powerful signature to determine the lunar origin of a pulse and discriminate against pulses of terrestrial radio frequency interference (RFI). This characteristic is parameterised by the instantaneous Total Electron Content (TEC) of the ionosphere and therefore an accurate knowledge of the ionospheric TEC provides an experimental advantage for the detection and identification of lunar Cherenkov pulses. We present a new method to calibrate the dispersive effect of the ionosphere on lunar Cherenkov pulses using lunar Faraday rotation measurements combined with geomagnetic field models.

VLBI astrometry of PSR J2222-0137: a pulsar distance measured to 0.4% accuracy

The binary pulsar J2222-0137 is an enigmatic system containing a partially recycled millisecond pulsar and a companion of unknown nature. Whilst the low eccentricity of the system favors a white dwarf companion, an unusual double neutron star system is also a possibility, and optical observations will be able to distinguish between these possibilities. In order to allow the absolute luminosity (or upper limit) of the companion object to be properly calibrated, we undertook astrometric observations with the Very Long Baseline Array to constrain the system distance via a measurement of annual geometric parallax. With these observations, we measure the parallax of the J2222-0137 system to be 3.742 +0.013 -0.016 milliarcseconds, yielding a distance of 267.3 +1.2 -0.9 pc, and measure the transverse velocity to be 57.1 +0.3 -0.2 km/s. Fixing these parameters in the pulsar timing model made it possible to obtain a measurement of Shapiro delay and hence the system inclination, which shows that the system is nearly edge-on (sin i = 0.9985 +/- 0.0005). Furthermore, we were able to detect the orbital motion of J2222-0137 in our VLBI observations and measure the longitude of ascending node. The VLBI astrometry yields the most accurate distance obtained for a radio pulsar to date, and is furthermore the most accurate parallax for any radio source obtained at "low" radio frequencies (below ~5 GHz, where the ionosphere dominates the error budget). Using the astrometric results, we show the companion to J2222-0137 will be easily detectable in deep optical observations if it is a white dwarf. Finally, we discuss the implications of this measurement for future ultra-high-precision astrometry, in particular in support of pulsar timing arrays.

Ionospheric dispersion compensation using a novel microwave de-dispersion filter

Free electrons in the ionosphere lead to significant group delay dispersion for signals in the megahertz and low gigahertz range. A novel microwave filter is presented that is capable of compensating for the non-linear ionospheric dispersion over a 600 MHz bandwidth between 1.2-1.8 GHz. The design method is general and is not limited to this particular frequency range but can provide an arbitrary phase and amplitude response over any frequency range. Several of the filters were constructed and used in an experiment to detect short radio pulse emission from the lunar regolith.

Calibrating High-Precision Faraday Rotation Measurements for LOFAR and the Next Generation of Low-Frequency Radio Telescopes

Faraday rotation measurements using the current and next generation of low-frequency radio telescopes will provide a powerful probe of astronomical magnetic fields. However, achieving the full potential of these measurements requires accurate removal of the time-variable ionospheric Faraday rotation contribution. We present ionFR, a code that calculates the amount of ionospheric Faraday rotation for a specific epoch, geographic location, and line-of-sight. ionFR uses a number of publicly available, GPS-derived total electron content maps and the most recent release of the International Geomagnetic Reference Field. We describe applications of this code for the calibration of radio polarimetric observations, and demonstrate the high accuracy of its modeled ionospheric Faraday rotations using LOFAR pulsar observations. These show that we can accurately determine some of the highest-precision pulsar rotation measures ever achieved. Precision rotation measures can be used to monitor rotation measure variations – either intrinsic or due to the changing line-of-sight through the interstellar medium. This calibration is particularly important for nearby sources, where the ionosphere can contribute a significant fraction of the observed rotation measure. We also discuss planned improvements to ionFR, as well as the importance of ionospheric Faraday rotation calibration for the emerging generation of low-frequency radio telescopes, such as the SKA and its pathfinders.

Investigation of the Earth Ionosphere using the Radio Emission of Pulsars

The investigation of the Earth ionosphere both in a quiet and a disturbed states is still desirable. Despite recent progress in its modeling and in estimating the electron concentration along the line of sight by GPS signals, the impact of the disturbed ionosphere and magnetic field on the wave propagation still remains not sufficiently understood. This is due to lack of information on the polarization of GPS signals, and due to poorly conditioned models of the ionosphere at high altitudes and strong perturbations. In this article we consider a possibility of using the data of pulsar radio emission, along with the traditional GPS system data, for the vertical and oblique sounding of the ionosphere. This approach also allows to monitor parameters of the propagation medium, such as the dispersion measure and the rotation measure using changes of the polarization between pulses. By using a selected pulsar constellation it is possible to increase the number of directions in which parameters of the ionosphere and the magnetic field can be estimated.

The Murchison Widefield Array: solar science with the low frequency SKA Precursor

The Murchison Widefield Array is a low frequency (80 – 300 MHz) SKA Precursor, comprising 128 aperture array elements (known as tiles) distributed over an area of 3 km diameter. The MWA is located at the extraordinarily radio quiet Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory in the mid-west of Western Australia, the selected home for the Phase 1 and Phase 2 SKA low frequency arrays. The MWA science goals include: 1) detection of fluctuations in the brightness temperature of the diffuse redshifted 21 cm line of neutral hydrogen from the epoch of reionisation; 2) studies of Galactic and extragalactic processes based on deep, confusion-limited surveys of the full sky visible to the array; 3) time domain astrophysics through exploration of the variable radio sky; and 4) solar imaging and characterisation of the heliosphere and ionosphere via propagation effects on background radio source emission. This paper concentrates on the capabilities of the MWA for solar science and summarises some of the solar science results to date, in advance of the initial operation of the final instrument in 2013.

Effect of transient solar wind pulses on atmospheric heating at Jupiter

Previously, we have presented the first study to investigate the response of the Jovian thermosphere to transient variations in solar wind dynamic pressure, using a coupled, azimuthally symmetric global circulation model coupled with a simple magnetosphere model. This work (Yates et al., 2013, submitted) described the response of thermospheric flows, momentum sources, and the magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling currents to transient compressions and expansions in the magnetosphere. The present study describes the response of thermospheric heating, cooling and the auroral emissions to the aforementioned transient events. We find that transient compressions and expansions, on time scales <= 3 hours, cause at least a factor of two increase in Joule heating per unit volume. Ion drag significantly changes the kinetic energy of the thermospheric neutrals depending on whether the magnetosphere is compressed or expanded. These processes lead to local temperature variations >= 25 K and a ~2000 TW increase in the total power dissipated in the thermosphere. In terms of auroral processes, transient compressions increase main oval UV emission by a factor of ~4.5 whilst transient expansions increase this main emission by a more modest 37%. Both types of transient event cause shifts in the position of the main oval, of up to 1 deg latitude.

Response of the Jovian thermosphere to a transient 'pulse' in solar wind pressure

The importance of the Jovian thermosphere with regard to magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling is often neglected in magnetospheric physics. We present the first study to investigate the response of the Jovian thermosphere to transient variations in solar wind dynamic pressure, using an azimuthally symmetric global circulation model coupled with a simple magnetosphere model. In our simulations, the Jovian magnetosphere encounters a solar wind shock or rarefaction region and is subsequently compressed or expanded. We present the ensuing response of the thermospheric flows, momentum sources, and the coupling currents, to these transient events. Transient compressions cause the reversal of magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling currents and momentum transfer between the thermosphere and magnetosphere. Both compression and expansion events cause order-of-magnitude increases in ion drag force and a factor-of-two increase in the rate of advection of momentum. These result in thermospheric temperature changes > 25 K. For auroral emissions, we find that transient compressions double main oval emission and shift the location of the oval ~0.2 deg poleward whilst transient expansions do not significantly change main oval emission but shift its location ~1 deg equatorward.

Improving the precision of pulsar timing through polarization statistics

At the highest levels of pulsar timing precision achieved to date, experiments are limited by noise intrinsic to the pulsar. This stochastic wideband impulse modulated self-noise (SWIMS) limits pulsar timing precision by randomly biasing the measured times of arrival and thus increasing the root mean square (rms) timing residual. We discuss an improved methodology of removing this bias in the measured times of arrival by including information about polarized radiation. Observations of J0437-4715 made over a one-week interval at the Parkes Observatory are used to demonstrate a nearly 40 per cent improvement in the rms timing residual with this extended analysis. In this way, based on the observations over a 64 MHz bandwidth centred at 1341 MHz with integrations over 16.78 s we achieve a 476 ns rms timing residual. In the absence of systematic error, these results lead to a predicted rms timing residual of 30 ns in one hour integrations; however the data are currently limited by variable Faraday rotation in the Earth’s ionosphere. The improvement demonstrated in this work provides an opportunity to increase the sensitivity in various pulsar timing experiments, for example pulsar timing arrays that pursue the detection of the stochastic background of gravitational waves. The fractional improvement is highly dependent on the properties of the pulse profile and the stochastic wideband impulse modulated self-noise of the pulsar in question.

Initial deep LOFAR observations of Epoch of Reionization windows: I. The North Celestial Pole [Replacement]

The aim of the LOFAR Epoch of Reionization (EoR) project is to detect the spectral fluctuations of the redshifted HI 21cm signal. This signal is weaker by several orders of magnitude than the astrophysical foreground signals and hence, in order to achieve this, very long integrations, accurate calibration for stations and ionosphere and reliable foreground removal are essential. One of the prospective observing windows for the LOFAR EoR project will be centered at the North Celestial Pole (NCP). We present results from observations of the NCP window using the LOFAR highband antenna (HBA) array in the frequency range 115 MHz to 163 MHz. The data were obtained in April 2011 during the commissioning phase of LOFAR. We used baselines up to about 30 km. With about 3 nights, of 6 hours each, effective integration we have achieved a noise level of about 100 microJy/PSF in the NCP window. Close to the NCP, the noise level increases to about 180 microJy/PSF, mainly due to additional contamination from unsubtracted nearby sources. We estimate that in our best night, we have reached a noise level only a factor of 1.4 above the thermal limit set by the noise from our Galaxy and the receivers. Our continuum images are several times deeper than have been achieved previously using the WSRT and GMRT arrays. We derive an analytical explanation for the excess noise that we believe to be mainly due to sources at large angular separation from the NCP.

Initial deep LOFAR observations of Epoch of Reionization windows: I. The North Celestial Pole

The aim of the LOFAR Epoch of Reionization (EoR) project is to detect the spectral fluctuations of the redshifted HI 21cm signal. This signal is weaker by several orders of magnitude than the astrophysical foreground signals and hence, in order to achieve this, very long integrations, accurate calibration for stations and ionosphere and reliable foreground removal are essential. One of the prospective observing windows for the LOFAR EoR project will be centered at the North Celestial Pole (NCP). We present results from observations of the NCP window using the LOFAR highband antenna (HBA) array in the frequency range 115 MHz to 163 MHz. The data were obtained in April 2011 during the commissioning phase of LOFAR. We used baselines up to about 30 km. With about 3 nights, of 6 hours each, effective integration we have achieved a noise level of about 100 microJy/PSF in the NCP window. Close to the NCP, the noise level increases to about 180 microJy/PSF, mainly due to additional contamination from unsubtracted nearby sources. We estimate that in our best night, we have reached a noise level only a factor of 1.4 above the thermal limit set by the noise from our Galaxy and the receivers. Our continuum images are several times deeper than have been achieved previously using the WSRT and GMRT arrays. We derive an analytical explanation for the excess noise that we believe to be mainly due to sources at large angular separation from the NCP.

Applying full polarization A-Projection to very wide field of view instruments: An imager for LOFAR

The aimed high sensitivities and large fields of view of the new generation of interferometers impose to reach high dynamic range of order $\sim$1:$10^6$ to 1:$10^8$ in the case of the Square Kilometer Array. The main problem is the calibration and correction of the Direction Dependent Effects (DDE) that can affect the electro-magnetic field (antenna beams, ionosphere, Faraday rotation, etc.). As shown earlier the A-Projection is a fast and accurate algorithm that can potentially correct for any given DDE in the imaging step. With its very wide field of view, low operating frequency ($\sim30-250$ MHz), long baselines, and complex station-dependent beam patterns, the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) is certainly the most complex SKA precursor. In this paper we present a few implementations of A-Projection applied to LOFAR that can deal with non-unitary station beams and non-diagonal Mueller matrices. The algorithm is designed to correct for all the DDE, including individual antenna, projection of the dipoles on the sky, beam forming and ionospheric effects. We describe a few important algorithmic optimizations related to LOFAR’s architecture allowing us to build a fast imager. Based on simulated datasets we show that A-Projection can give dramatic dynamic range improvement for both phased array beams and ionospheric effects. We will use this algorithm for the construction of the deepest extragalactic surveys, comprising hundreds of days of integration.

Fundamental limits of radio interferometers: calibration and source parameter estimation

We use information theory to derive fundamental limits on the capacity to calibrate next-generation radio interferometers, and measure parameters of point sources for instrument calibration, point source subtraction, and data deconvolution. We demonstrate the implications of these fundamental limits, with particular reference to estimation of the 21cm Epoch of Reionization power spectrum with next-generation low-frequency instruments (e.g., the Murchison Widefield Array — MWA, Precision Array for Probing the Epoch of Reionization — PAPER), where short time scale instrumental calibration is required due to the impact of the ionosphere on the signal wavefront. Finally, we explore the optimal point source precision available by using a combination of current and prior information. Estimation schemes that incorporate prior information may be advantageous when the measurement precision is comparable to the characteristic refraction scale of the ionosphere.

Realisation of a low frequency SKA Precursor: The Murchison Widefield Array

The Murchison Widefield Array is a low frequency (80 – 300 MHz) SKA Precursor, comprising 128 aperture array elements distributed over an area of 3 km diameter. The MWA is located at the extraordinarily radio quiet Murchison Radioastronomy Observatory in the mid-west of Western Australia, the selected home for the Phase 1 and Phase 2 SKA low frequency arrays. The MWA science goals include: 1) detection of fluctuations in the brightness temperature of the diffuse redshifted 21 cm line of neutral hydrogen from the epoch of reionisation; 2) studies of Galactic and extragalactic processes based on deep, confusion-limited surveys of the full sky visible to the array; 3) time domain astrophysics through exploration of the variable radio sky; and 4) solar imaging and characterisation of the heliosphere and ionosphere via propagation effects on background radio source emission. This paper will focus on a brief discussion of the as-built MWA system, highlighting several novel characteristics of the instrument, and a brief progress report (as of June 2012) on the final construction phase. Practical completion of the MWA is expected in November 2012, with commissioning commencing from approximately August 2012 and operations commencing near mid 2013. A brief description of recent science results from the MWA prototype instrument is given.

Origin of electron cyclotron maser-induced radio emissions at ultra-cool dwarfs: magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling currents

A number of ultra-cool dwarfs emit circularly polarised radio waves generated by the electron cyclotron maser instability. In the solar system such radio is emitted from regions of strong auroral magnetic field-aligned currents. We thus apply ideas developed for Jupiter’s magnetosphere, being a well-studied rotationally-dominated analogue in our solar system, to the case of fast-rotating UCDs. We explain the properties of the radio emission from UCDs by showing that it would arise from the electric currents resulting from an angular velocity shear in the fast-rotating magnetic field and plasma, i.e. by an extremely powerful analogue of the process which causes Jupiter’s auroras. Such a velocity gradient indicates that these bodies interact significantly with their space environment, resulting in intense auroral emissions. These results strongly suggest that auroras occur on bodies outside our solar system.

The escape of heavy atoms from the ionosphere of HD209458b. II. Interpretation of the observations

Transits in the H I 1216 A (Lyman alpha), O I 1334 A, C II 1335 A, and Si III 1206.5 A lines constrain the properties of the upper atmosphere of HD209458b. In addition to probing the temperature and density profiles in the thermosphere, they have implications for the properties of the lower atmosphere. Fits to the observations with a simple empirical model and a direct comparison with a more complex hydrodynamic model constrain the mean temperature and ionization state of the atmosphere, and imply that the optical depth of the extended thermosphere of the planet in the atomic resonance lines is significant. In particular, it is sufficient to explain the observed transit depths in the H I 1216 A line. The detection of O at high altitudes implies that the minimum mass loss rate from the planet is approximately 6e6 kg/s. The mass loss rate based on our hydrodynamic model is higher than this and implies that diffusive separation is prevented for neutral species with a mass lower than about 130 amu by the escape of H. Heavy ions are transported to the upper atmosphere by Coulomb collisions with H+ and their presence does not provide as strong constraints on the mass loss rate as the detection of heavy neutral atoms. Models of the upper atmosphere with solar composition and heating based on the average solar X-ray and EUV flux agree broadly with the observations but tend to underestimate the transit depths in the O I, C II, and Si III lines. This suggests that the temperature and/or elemental abundances in the thermosphere may be higher than expected from such models…The detection of Si2+ in the thermosphere indicates that clouds of forsterite and enstatite do not form in the lower atmosphere…

The escape of heavy atoms from the ionosphere of HD209458b. I. A photochemical-dynamical model of the thermosphere

The detections of atomic hydrogen, heavy atoms and ions surrounding the extrasolar giant planet (EGP) HD209458b constrain the composition, temperature and density profiles in its upper atmosphere. Thus the observations provide guidance for models that have so far predicted a range of possible conditions. We present the first hydrodynamic escape model for the upper atmosphere that includes all of the detected species in order to explain their presence at high altitudes, and to further constrain the temperature and velocity profiles. This model calculates the stellar heating rates based on recent estimates of photoelectron heating efficiencies, and includes the photochemistry of heavy atoms and ions in addition to hydrogen and helium. The composition at the lower boundary of the escape model is constrained by a full photochemical model of the lower atmosphere. We confirm that molecules dissociate near the 1 microbar level, and find that complex molecular chemistry does not need to be included above this level. We also confirm that diffusive separation of the detected species does not occur because the heavy atoms and ions collide frequently with the rapidly escaping H and H+. This means that the abundance of the heavy atoms and ions in the thermosphere simply depends on the elemental abundances and ionization rates. We show that, as expected, H and O remain mostly neutral up to at least 3 Rp, whereas both C and Si are mostly ionized at significantly lower altitudes. We also explore the temperature and velocity profiles, and find that the outflow speed and the temperature gradients depend strongly on the assumed heating efficiencies…

Axion electrodynamics and dark matter fingerprints in the terrestrial magnetic and electric fields [Cross-Listing]

We consider mathematical aspects of the axion electrodynamics in application to the problem of evolution of geomagnetic and terrestrial electric fields, which are coupled by relic axions born in the early Universe and (hypothetically) forming now the cold dark matter. We find axionic analogs of the Debye potentials, well-known in the standard Faraday – Maxwell electrodynamics, and discuss exact solutions to the equations of the axion electrodynamics describing the state of axionically coupled electric and magnetic fields in a spherical resonator Earth-Ionosphere. We focus on the properties of the specific electric and magnetic oscillations, which appeared as a result of the axion-photon coupling in the dark matter environment. We indicate such electric and magnetic field configurations as longitudinal electro-magnetic clusters.

Solar Cycle 24: is the peak coming?

Solar cycle activity forecasting, mainly its magnitude and timing, is an essential issue for numerous scientific and technological applications: in fact, during an active solar period, many strong eruptions occur on the Sun with increasing frequency, such as flares, coronal mass ejections, high velocity solar wind photons and particles, which can severely affect the Earth’s ionosphere and the geomagnetic field, with impacts on the low atmosphere. Thus it is very important to develop reliable solar cycle prediction methods for the incoming solar activity. The current solar cycle 24 appeared unusual from many points of view: an unusually extended minimum period, and a global low activity compared to those of the previous three or four cycles. Currently, there are many different evidences that the peak in the northern hemisphere already occurred at 2011.6 but not yet in the southern hemisphere. In this brief note we update the peak prediction and its timing, based on the most recent observations.

Solar Cycle 24: is the peak coming? [Replacement]

Solar cycle activity forecasting, mainly its magnitude and timing, is an essential issue for numerous scientific and technological applications: in fact, during an active solar period, many strong eruptions occur on the Sun with increasing frequency, such as flares, coronal mass ejections, high velocity solar wind photons and particles, which can severely affect the Earth’s ionosphere and the geomagnetic field, with impacts on the low atmosphere. Thus it is very important to develop reliable solar cycle prediction methods for the incoming solar activity. The current solar cycle 24 appeared unusual from many points of view: an unusually extended minimum period, and a global low activity compared to those of the previous three or four cycles. Currently, there are many different evidences that the peak in the northern hemisphere already occurred at 2011.6 but not yet in the southern hemisphere. In this brief note we update the peak prediction and its timing, based on the most recent observations.

Candidates for detecting exoplanetary radio emissions generated by magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling

In this paper we consider the magnetosphere-ionosphere (M-I) coupling at Jupiter-like exoplanets with internal plasma sources such as volcanic moons, and we have determined the best candidates for detection of these radio emissions by estimating the maximum spectral flux density expected from planets orbiting stars within 25 pc using data listed in the NASA/IPAC/NExScI Star and Exoplanet Database (NStED). In total we identify 91 potential targets, of which 40 already host planets and 51 have stellar X-ray luminosity 100 times the solar value. In general, we find that stronger planetary field strength, combined with faster rotation rate, higher stellar XUV luminosity, and lower stellar wind dynamic pressure results in higher radio power. The top two targets for each category are $\epsilon$ Eri and HIP 85523, and CPD-28 332 and FF And.

Reduced Ambiguity Calibration for LOFAR

Interferometric calibration always yields non unique solutions. It is therefore essential to remove these ambiguities before the solutions could be used in any further modeling of the sky, the instrument or propagation effects such as the ionosphere. We present a method for LOFAR calibration which does not yield a unitary ambiguity, especially under ionospheric distortions. We also present exact ambiguities we get in our solutions, in closed form. Casting this as an optimization problem, we also present conditions for this approach to work. The proposed method enables us to use the solutions obtained via calibration for further modeling of instrumental and propagation effects. We provide extensive simulation results on the performance of our method. Moreover, we also give cases where due to degeneracy, this method fails to perform as expected and in such cases, we suggest exploiting diversity in time, space and frequency.

A shared frequency set between the historical mid-latitude aurora records and the global surface temperature

Herein we show that the historical records of mid-latitude auroras from 1700 to 1966 present oscillations with periods of about 9, 10-11, 20-21, 30 and 60 years. The same frequencies are found in proxy and instrumental global surface temperature records since 1650 and 1850, respectively and in several planetary and solar records. Thus, the aurora records reveal a physical link between climate change and astronomical oscillations. Likely, there exists a modulation of the cosmic ray flux reaching the Earth and/or of the electric properties of the ionosphere. The latter, in turn, have the potentiality of modulating the global cloud cover that ultimately drives the climate oscillations through albedo oscillations. In particular, a quasi 60-year large cycle is quite evident since 1650 in all climate and astronomical records herein studied, which also include an historical record of meteorite fall in China from 619 to 1943. These findings support the thesis that climate oscillations have an astronomical origin. We show that a harmonic constituent model based on the major astronomical frequencies revealed in the aurora records is able to forecast with a reasonable accuracy the decadal and multidecadal temperature oscillations from 1950 to 2010 using the temperature data before 1950, and vice versa. The existence of a natural 60-year modulation of the global surface temperature induced by astronomical mechanisms, by alone, would imply that at least 60-70% of the warming observed since 1970 has been naturally induced. Moreover, the climate may stay approximately stable during the next decades because the 60-year cycle has entered in its cooling phase.

Altitude distribution of electron concentration in ionospheric D-region in presence of time-varying solar radiation flux

In this paper, we study the influence of solar flares on electron concentration in the terrestrial ionospheric D-region by analyzing the amplitude and phase time variations of very low frequency (VLF) radio waves emitted by DHO transmitter (Germany) and recorded by the AWESOME receiver in Belgrade (Serbia) in real time. The rise of photo-ionization rate in the ionospheric D-region is a typical consequence of solar flare activity as recorded by GOES-15 satellite for the event on March 24, 2011 between 12:01 UT and 12:11 UT. At altitudes around 70 km, the photo-ionization and recombination are the dominant electron gain and electron loss processes, respectively. We analyze the relative contribution of each of these two processes in the resulting electron concentration variation in perturbed ionosphere.

Year 3 LUNAR Annual Report to the NASA Lunar Science Institute

The Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR) is a team of researchers and students at leading universities, NASA centers, and federal research laboratories undertaking investigations aimed at using the Moon as a platform for space science. LUNAR research includes Lunar Interior Physics & Gravitation using Lunar Laser Ranging (LLR), Low Frequency Cosmology and Astrophysics (LFCA), Planetary Science and the Lunar Ionosphere, Radio Heliophysics, and Exploration Science. The LUNAR team is exploring technologies that are likely to have a dual purpose, serving both exploration and science. There is a certain degree of commonality in much of LUNAR’s research. Specifically, the technology development for a lunar radio telescope involves elements from LFCA, Heliophysics, Exploration Science, and Planetary Science; similarly the drilling technology developed for LLR applies broadly to both Exploration and Lunar Science.

Year 3 LUNAR Annual Report to the NASA Lunar Science Institute [Replacement]

The Lunar University Network for Astrophysics Research (LUNAR) is a team of researchers and students at leading universities, NASA centers, and federal research laboratories undertaking investigations aimed at using the Moon as a platform for space science. LUNAR research includes Lunar Interior Physics & Gravitation using Lunar Laser Ranging (LLR), Low Frequency Cosmology and Astrophysics (LFCA), Planetary Science and the Lunar Ionosphere, Radio Heliophysics, and Exploration Science. The LUNAR team is exploring technologies that are likely to have a dual purpose, serving both exploration and science. There is a certain degree of commonality in much of LUNAR’s research. Specifically, the technology development for a lunar radio telescope involves elements from LFCA, Heliophysics, Exploration Science, and Planetary Science; similarly the drilling technology developed for LLR applies broadly to both Exploration and Lunar Science.

Observations of Low Frequency Solar Radio Bursts from the Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory

The Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory (RSTO; www.rosseobservatory.ie) was established at Birr Castle, Co. Offaly, Ireland (53{\deg}05’38.9″, 7{\deg}55’12.7″) in 2010 to study solar radio bursts and the response of the Earth’s ionosphere and geomagnetic field. To date, three Compound Astronomical Low-cost Low-frequency Instrument for Spectroscopy and Transportable Observatory (CAL- LISTO) spectrometers have been installed, with the capability of observing in the frequency range 10-870 MHz. The receivers are fed simultaneously by biconical and log-periodic antennas. Nominally, frequency spectra in the range 10-400 MHz are obtained with 4 sweeps per second over 600 channels. Here, we describe the RSTO solar radio spectrometer set-up, and present dynamic spectra of a sample of Type II, III and IV radio bursts. In particular, we describe fine-scale structure observed in Type II bursts, including band splitting and rapidly varying herringbone features.

Observations of Low Frequency Solar Radio Bursts from the Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory [Replacement]

The Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory (RSTO; www.rosseobservatory.ie) was established at Birr Castle, Co. Offaly, Ireland (53 05’38.9″, 7 55’12.7″) in 2010 to study solar radio bursts and the response of the Earth’s ionosphere and geomagnetic field. To date, three Compound Astronomical Low-cost Low-frequency Instrument for Spectroscopy and Transportable Observatory (CALLISTO) spectrometers have been installed, with the capability of observing in the frequency range 10-870 MHz. The receivers are fed simultaneously by biconical and log-periodic antennas. Nominally, frequency spectra in the range 10-400 MHz are obtained with 4 sweeps per second over 600 channels. Here, we describe the RSTO solar radio spectrometer set-up, and present dynamic spectra of a sample of Type II, III and IV radio bursts. In particular, we describe fine-scale structure observed in Type II bursts, including band splitting and rapidly varying herringbone features.

Observations of Low Frequency Solar Radio Bursts from the Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory [Replacement]

The Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory (RSTO; www.rosseobservatory.ie) was established at Birr Castle, Co. Offaly, Ireland (53 05’38.9", 7 55’12.7") in 2010 to study solar radio bursts and the response of the Earth’s ionosphere and geomagnetic field. To date, three Compound Astronomical Low-cost Low-frequency Instrument for Spectroscopy and Transportable Observatory (CALLISTO) spectrometers have been installed, with the capability of observing in the frequency range 10-870 MHz. The receivers are fed simultaneously by biconical and log-periodic antennas. Nominally, frequency spectra in the range 10-400 MHz are obtained with 4 sweeps per second over 600 channels. Here, we describe the RSTO solar radio spectrometer set-up, and present dynamic spectra of a sample of Type II, III and IV radio bursts. In particular, we describe fine-scale structure observed in Type II bursts, including band splitting and rapidly varying herringbone features.

Observations of Low Frequency Solar Radio Bursts from the Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory [Replacement]

The Rosse Solar-Terrestrial Observatory (RSTO; www.rosseobservatory.ie) was established at Birr Castle, Co. Offaly, Ireland (53 05’38.9", 7 55’12.7") in 2010 to study solar radio bursts and the response of the Earth’s ionosphere and geomagnetic field. To date, three Compound Astronomical Low-cost Low-frequency Instrument for Spectroscopy and Transportable Observatory (CALLISTO) spectrometers have been installed, with the capability of observing in the frequency range 10-870 MHz. The receivers are fed simultaneously by biconical and log-periodic antennas. Nominally, frequency spectra in the range 10-400 MHz are obtained with 4 sweeps per second over 600 channels. Here, we describe the RSTO solar radio spectrometer set-up, and present dynamic spectra of a sample of Type II, III and IV radio bursts. In particular, we describe fine-scale structure observed in Type II bursts, including band splitting and rapidly varying herringbone features.

Spacecraft VLBI and Doppler tracking: algorithms and implementation

We present the results of several multi-station Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) experiments conducted with the ESA spacecraft Venus Express as a target. To determine the true capabilities of VLBI tracking for future planetary missions in the solar system, it is necessary to demonstrate the accuracy of the method for existing operational spacecraft. We describe the software pipeline for the processing of phase referencing near-field VLBI observations and present results of the ESA Venus Express spacecraft observing campaign conducted in 2010-2011. We show that a highly accurate determination of spacecraft state-vectors is achievable with our method. The consistency of the positions indicates that an internal rms accuracy of 0.1 mas has been achieved. However, systematic effects produce offsets up to 1 mas, but can be reduced by better modelling of the troposphere and ionosphere and closer target-calibrator configurations.

Solar wind driven plasma fluxes from the Venus ionosphere

Measurements conducted with the ASPERA-4 instrument and the magnetometer of the Venus Express spacecraft show that the dynamic pressure of planetary O+ ion fluxes measured in the Venus wake can be significantly larger than the local magnetic pressure and, as a result, those ions are not being driven by magnetic forces but by the kinetic energy of the solar wind. Beams of planetary O+ ions with those properties have been detected in several orbits of the Venus Express through the wake as the spacecraft traverses by the noon-midnight plane along its near polar trajectory. The momentum flux of the O+ ions leads to superalfvenic flow conditions. It is suggested that such O+ ion beams are produced in the vicinity of the magnetic polar regions of the Venus ionosphere where the solar wind erodes the local plasma leading to plasma channels that extend downstream from those regions.

IONORT: a Windows software tool to calculate the HF ray tracing in the ionosphere [Cross-Listing]

This paper describes an applicative software tool, named IONORT (IONOspheric Ray Tracing), for calculating a three-dimensional ray tracing of high frequency waves in the ionospheric medium. This tool runs under Windows operating systems and its friendly graphical user interface facilitates both the numerical data input/output and the two/three-dimensional visualization of the ray path. In order to calculate the coordinates of the ray and the three components of the wave vector along the path as dependent variables, the core of the program solves a system of six first order differential equations, the group path being the independent variable of integration. IONORT uses a three-dimensional electron density specification of the ionosphere, as well as by geomagnetic field and neutral particles-electrons collision frequency models having validity in the area of interest.

A New Technique for Spectral Analysis of Ionospheric TEC Fluctuations Observed with the Very Large Array VHF System: From QP Echoes to MSTIDs [Cross-Listing]

We have used a relatively long, contiguous VHF observation of a bright cosmic radio source (Cygnus A) with the Very Large Array (VLA) through the nighttime, midlatitude ionosphere to demonstrate the phenomena observable with this instrument. In a companion paper, we showed that the VLA can detect fluctuations in total electron content (TEC) with amplitudes of <0.001 TECU and can measure TEC gradients with a precision of about 0.0002 TECU/km. We detail two complementary techniques for producing spectral analysis of these TEC gradient measurements. The first is able to track individual waves with wavelengths of about half the size of the array (~20 km) or more. This technique was successful in detecting and characterizing many medium-scale traveling ionospheric disturbances (MSTIDs) seen intermittently throughout the night and has been partially validated using concurrent GPS measurements. Smaller waves are also seen with this technique at nearly all times, many of which move in similar directions as the detected MSTIDs. The second technique allows for the detection and statistical description of the properties of groups of waves moving in similar directions with wavelengths as small as 5 km. Combining the results of both spectral techniques, we found a class of intermediate and small scale waves which are likely the quasi-periodic (QP) echoes that have been observed to occur within sporadic-E (Es) layers. We find two distinct populations of these waves. The members of one population are coincident in time with MSTIDs and are consistent with being generated within Es layers by the E-F coupling instability. The other population seems more influenced by the neutral wind, similar to the predominant types of QP echoes found by the Sporadic-E Experiments over Kyushu (Fukao et al. 1998; Yamamoto et al. 2005).

High-precision Measurements of Ionospheric TEC Gradients with the Very Large Array VHF System [Cross-Listing]

We have used a relatively long, contiguous VHF observation of a bright cosmic radio source (Cygnus A) with the Very Large Array (VLA) to demonstrate the capability of this instrument to study the ionosphere. This interferometer, and others like it, can observe ionospheric total electron content (TEC) fluctuations on a much wider range of scales than is possible with many other instruments. We have shown that with a bright source, the VLA can measure differential TEC values between pairs of antennas (delta-TEC) with an precision of 0.0003 TECU. Here, we detail the data reduction and processing techniques used to achieve this level of precision. In addition, we demonstrate techniques for exploiting these high-precision delta-TEC measurements to compute the TEC gradient observed by the array as well as small-scale fluctuations within the TEC gradient surface. A companion paper details specialized spectral analysis techniques used to characterize the properties of wave-like fluctuations within this data.

Modeling the Seasonal Variability of the Plasma Environment in Saturn's Magnetosphere between Main Rings and Mimas

The detection of O2+ and O+ ions over Saturn’s main rings by the Cassini INMS and CAPS instruments at Saturn orbit insertion (SOI) in 2004 confirmed the existence of the ring atmosphere and ionosphere. The source mechanism was suggested to be primarily photolytic decomposition of water ice producing neutral O2 and H2 (Johnson et al., 2006). Therefore, we predicted that there would be seasonal variations in the ring atmosphere and ionosphere due to the orientation of the ring plane to the sun (Tseng et al., 2010). The atoms and molecules scattered out of the ring atmosphere by ion-molecule collisions are an important source for the inner magnetosphere (Johnson et al., 2006; Martens et al. 2008; Tseng et al., 2010 and 2011). This source competes with water products from the Enceladus’ plumes, which, although possibly variable, do not appear to have a seasonal variability (Smith et al., 2010). Recently, we found that the plasma density, composition and temperature in the region from 2.5 to 3.5 RS exhibited significant seasonal variation between 2004 and 2010 (Elrod et al., 2011). Here we present a one-box ion chemistry model to explain the complex and highly variable plasma environment observed by the CAPS instrument on Cassini. We combine the water products from Enceladus with the molecules scattered from a corrected ring atmosphere, in order to describe the temporal changes in ion densities, composition and temperature detected by CAPS. We found that the observed temporal variations are primarily seasonal, due to the predicted seasonal variation in the ring atmosphere, and are consistent with a compressed magnetosphere at SOI.

Axisymmetric Nonlinear Waves And Structures in Hall Plasmas [Cross-Listing]

A Hall plasma consists of a plasma with not all species frozen into the magnetic field. In this paper, a general equation for the evolution of an axisymmetric magnetic field in a Hall plasma is derived, with an integral similar to the Grad-Shafranov equation. Special solutions arising from curvature — whistler drift modes that propagate along the electron drift as a Burger’s shock, and nonlinear periodic and soliton-like solutions to the generalized Grad-Shafranov integral — are analyzed. We derive analytical and numerical solutions in an electron-ion Hall plasma, in which electrons and ions are the only species in the plasmas. Results may then be applied to electron-ion-gas Hall plasmas, in which the ions are coupled to the motion of gases in low ionized plasmas (lower ionosphere and protostellar disks), and to dusty Hall plasmas (such as molecular clouds), in which the much heavier charged dust may be collisionally coupled to the gas.

Magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling in Jupiter's middle magnetosphere: computations including a self-consistent current sheet magnetic field model [Cross-Listing]

In this paper we consider the effect of a self-consistently computed magnetosdisc field structure on the magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling current system at Jupiter. We find that the azimuthal current intensity, and thus the stretching of the magnetic field lines, is dependent on the magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling current system parameters, i.e. the ionospheric Pedersen conductivity and iogenic plasma mass outflow rate. Overall, however, the equatorial magnetic field profiles obtained are similar in the inner region to those used previously, such that the currents are of the same order as previous solutions obtained using a fixed empirical equatorial field strength model, although the outer fringing field of the current disc acts to reverse the field-aligned current in the outer region. We also find that, while the azimuthal current in the inner region is dominated by hot plasma pressure, as is generally held to be the case at Jupiter, the use of a realistic plasma angular velocity profile actually results in the centrifugal current becoming dominant in the outer magnetosphere. In addition, despite the dependence of the intensity of the azimuthal current on the magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling current system parameters, the location of the peak field-aligned current in the equatorial plane also varies, such that the ionospheric location remains roughly constant. It is thus found that significant changes to the mass density of the iogenic plasma disc are required to explain the variation in the main oval location observed using the Hubble Space Telescope.

Effects of Magnetic Turbulence on the Dynamics of Pickup Ions in the Ionosheath of Mars

We study some of the effects that magnetic turbulent fluctuations have on the dynamics of pickup O+ ions in the magnetic polar regions of the Mars ionosheath. In particular we study their effect on the bulk velocity profiles of ions as a function of altitude over the magnetic poles, in order to compare them with recent Mars Express data; that indicate that their average velocity is very low and essentially in the anti-sunward direction. We find that, while magnetic field fluctuations do give rise to deviations from simple ExB-drift gyromotion, even fluctuation amplitudes much greater than those of in situ measurements are {\it not} able to reproduce the vertical velocity profile of O+ ions. We conclude that other physical mechanisms, different from a pure charged particle dynamics, are acting on pickup ions at the Martian terminator. A possibility being a viscous-like interaction between the Solar Wind and the Martian ionosphere at low altitudes.

Precise absolute astrometry from the VLBA imaging and polarimetry survey at 5 GHz [Replacement]

We present in this paper accurate positions of 857 sources derived from the astrometric analysis of 16 eleven-hour experiments from the Very Long Baseline Array imaging and polarimetry survey at 5 GHz (VIPS). Among observed sources, positions of 430 objects were not determined before at a milliarcsecond level of accuracy. For 95% of the sources the uncertainty of their positions range from 0.3 to 0.9 mas, with the median value of 0.5 mas. This estimate of accuracy is substantiated by the comparison of positions of 386 sources that were previously observed in astrometric programs simultaneously at 2.3/8.6 GHz. Surprisingly, the ionosphere contribution to group delay was adequately modeled with the use of the total electron contents maps derived from GPS observations and only marginally affected estimates of source coordinates.

Precise absolute astrometry from the VLBA imaging and polarimetry survey at 5 GHz

We present in this paper accurate positions of 857 sources derived from the astrometric analysis of 16 eleven-hour experiments from the Very Long Baseline Array imaging and polarimetry survey at 5 GHz (VIPS). Among observed sources, positions of 430 objects were not determined before at a milliarcsecond level of accuracy. For 95% of the sources the uncertainty of their positions range from 0.3 to 0.9 mas, with the median value of 0.5 mas. This high accuracy is substantiated by the comparison of positions of 386 sources that were previously observed in astrometric programs simultaneously at 2.3/8.6 GHz. Surprisingly, the ionosphere contribution to group delay was adequately modeled with the use of the total electron contents maps derived from GPS observations and only marginally affected estimates of source coordinates.

Electric field variability and classifications of Titan's magnetoplasma environment

The atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon Titan is driven by photochemistry, charged particle precipitation from Saturn’s upstream magnetosphere, and presumably by the diffusion of the magnetospheric field into the outer ionosphere, amongst other processes. Ion pickup, controlled by the upstream convection electric field, plays a role in the loss of this atmosphere. The interaction of Titan with Saturn’s magnetosphere results in the formation of a flow-induced magnetosphere. The upstream magnetoplasma environment of Titan is a complex and highly variable system and significant quasi-periodic modulations of the plasma in this region of Saturn’s magnetosphere have been reported. In this paper we quantitatively investigate the effect of these quasi-periodic modulations on the convection electric field at Titan. We show that the electric field can be significantly perturbed away from the nominal radial orientation inferred from Voyager 1 observations, and demonstrate that upstream categorisation schemes must be used with care when undertaking quantitative studies of Titan’s magnetospheric interaction, particularly where assumptions regarding the orientation of the convection electric field are made.

A Radio Observatory on the Lunar Surface for Solar studies (ROLSS)

By volume, more than 99% of the solar system has not been imaged at radio frequencies. Almost all of this space (the solar wind) can be traversed by fast electrons producing radio emissions at frequencies lower than the terrestrial ionospheric cutoff, which prevents observation from the ground. To date, radio astronomy-capable space missions consist of one or a few satellites, typically far from each other, which measure total power from the radio sources, but cannot produce images with useful angular resolution. To produce such images, we require arrays of antennas distributed over many wavelengths (hundreds of meters to kilometers) to permit aperture synthesis imaging. Such arrays could be free-flying arrays of microsatellites or antennas laid out on the lunar surface. In this white paper, we present the lunar option. If such an array were in place by 2020, it would provide context for observations during Solar Probe Plus perihelion passes. Studies of the lunar ionosphere’s density and time variability are also important goals. This white paper applies to the Solar and Heliospheric Physics study panel.

 

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