Relativistic electron beam propagation in the earth's atmosphere: Modeling results

Torsten Neubert, B. Gilchrist, S. Wilderman, L. Habash, H. J. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Linear accelerators (linacs), capable of producing: 5 MeV energy electron beams at 80 mA currents, are now down to a size that allow them to be flown on sounding rockets or balloons. This opens up new opportunities for atmospheric/ionospheric modification experiments where the mesosphere and thermosphere regions of the atmosphere call be perturbed down to 40 km altitude. In this paper beam propagation and atmospheric perturbation effects are studied by Monte Carlo simulations and by analytical means. It is shown that the earth's magnetic field severely limits the radial expansion of the beam otherwise induced by electron-neutral collisions. It is also shown that the so-called ''envelope-equations'' from high-energy laboratory physics adequately describe beam propagation in the upper atmosphere. The plasma density and electric conductivity modifications to the atmosphere are calculated from the Monte Carlo simulations. Inside the beam the conductivity in the 40-50 km altitude region is enhanced more than one order of magnitude by a 10 mu s-duration pulse. Some ideas for future scientific investigations are discussed, including the generation of electrical discharges bgl beams injected over thunderstorm regions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)1009-1012
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 1996
Externally publishedYes

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