Electron collection enhancement arising from neutral gas jets on a charged vehicle in the ionosphere

Brian E. Gilchrist, Peter M. Banks, Torsten Neubert, P. Roger Williamson, Neil B. Myers, W. John Raitt, Susumu Sasaki

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Observations of current collection enhancements due to cold nitrogen gas control jet emissions from a highly charged, isolated rocket payload in the ionosphere have been made during the cooperative high altitude rocket gun experiment (CHARGE) 2 using an electrically tethered mother/daughter payload system. The current collection enhancement was observed on a platform (daughter payload) located 100 to 400 m away from the main payload firing an energetic electron beam (mother payload). We interpret these results in terms of an electrical discharge forming in close proximity to the daughter vehicle during the short periods of gas emission. The results indicate that it is possible to enhance the electron current collection capability of positively charged vehicles by means of deliberate neutral gas releases into an otherwise undisturbed space plasma. Our results are also compared with recent laboratory observations of hollow cathode plasma contactors operating in the “ignited” mode.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research-space Physics
Issue numberA3
Pages (from-to)2469-2475
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 1990
Externally publishedYes


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