Martínez Sánchez, Manuel and Sanmartín Losada, Juan Ramón
Artificial auroral effects from a bare conducting tether.
"Journal of Geophysical Research", v. 102
An electrically floating metallic bare tether in a low Earth orbit would be highly negative with respect to the ambient plasma over most of its length, and would be bombarded by ambient ions.This would liberates secondary electrons which after acceleration through the same voltage, would form a magnetically guided two-sided planar e beam,and result in auroral effects(ionization and light emission)upon impacto on the atmospheric E layer, at
about 120-140 km altitude.This papere examines in a preliminary way the feasibility of using this effecet as an uppeart atmospheric probe. Ionization rate can reach up to 10 3 cm 3 S -1 if a tape, instead of a wire, is used as tether. Contrary to standard e beams,the beam from the
tether is free of spacecrafct charging and plasma interaction problems and its energy flux varies across the crosss ection,w hich is quite large;this would make possible continuous observation from the satellite, with high resolution both spectral and vertical, of the induced optical emissions. Ground observation might be possible at latitudes around 40ø , for night, magnetically quiet conditions.