Direct evidence reveals transmitter signal propagation in the magnetosphere
Signals from very-low-frequency transmitters on the ground are known to induce energetic electron precipitation from the Earth's radiation belts. The effectiveness of this mechanism depends on the propagation characteristics of those signals in the magnetosphere, and in particular whether the signals are ducted or nonducted along channels of enhanced plasma density, analogous to optical fibers. Here we perform a statistical analysis of in-situ waveform data collected by the Van Allen Probes satellites that shows that nonducted propagation dominates over ducted propagation in both the occurrence and intensity of the waves. Ray tracing confirms that the latitudinal distribution of wavevectors corresponds to nonducted as opposed to ducted propagation. Our results show the dominant mode of propagation needed to quantify transmitter-induced precipitation and improve the forecast of electron radiation belt dynamics for the safe operation of satellites.
Authors: Gu, Wenyao, Chen, Lunjin, Xia, Zhiyang, Horne, Richard B. ORCID record for Richard B. Horne