Radar observations of field-aligned plasma propagations associated with NASA's PMG experiment
Olson, Darren Montgomery
Olsen, Richard Christopher
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ASA's Plasma Motor Generator (PMG) tethered satellite mission was launched in June 1993 to verify the ability of hollow cathode plasma sources to couple electric currents from an electrodynamic tether into the ambient ionospheric plasma. This large-scale coupling process resulted in turbulent plasma signatures associated with the orbiting plasma generator, which propagated over great distances along the earth's geomagnetic field lines. VHF radars in Hilo, Hawaii and Jicamarca, Peru recorded observations of these field-aligned disturbances as part of the experiment. Based on analysis of these radar observations and tracking data of PMG's orbit, the effective propagation velocity of these traveling plasma waveforms was calculated to be of the order of 1000 meters per second. Detection of these disturbances, associated with PMG's passage overhead, supports the existence of a phantom current loop allowing current flow along the magnetic field lines of the earth and into the lower ionosphere from either end of an electrodynamic tether.
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