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E-beam propagation and interaction with atmosphere
Sanmartín Losada, Juan Ramón and Elaskar, Sergio
E-beam propagation and interaction with atmosphere.
"Mecánica computacional", v. XXIII
This study purports to investigate whether a conductive tether left uninsulated and electrically floating in LEO could serve as an effective e-beam source to produce artificial auroras. An electrically floating tether comes out biased highly negative over most of its length. Ambient ions impacting it with KeV energies liberate secondary electrons, which are locally accelerated through the 2D tether voltage-bias, race down magnetic lines, and result
in peak auroral emissions at about 120-160 km altitude. Since no current flows at either tether end, a bare-tether e-beam is fully free of spacecraft charging problems. Beam
propagation and beam-atmosphere interactions need be modelled in a simple but quantitative way so as to allow a satisfactory discussion of observational options and their feasibility. The evolution in the energy spectrum of secondary electrons, their pitch distribution, and beam
broadening due to collisions with neutrals, which would result in a broader but weaker tether footprint in the E-layer, need be modelled. Relations between particle/energy flux values, and ionization and accompanying emission rates, are considered.
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