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Method of Enhancing the Signal at the Atmosphere Produced by an Electron Beam Injected from an Earth Orbiting Spacecraft

One of the most important problems in space research, whose solution is also of high value to today's society which relies more and more on the reliability of the communication satellites, is mapping of the magnetic field lines in the Earth's magnetosphere.  Obtaining such mapping is however technically challenging.  A proposed method for this purpose has been to emit an energetic electron beam from an Earth orbiting spacecraft, and detect the beam's signal produced at the atmosphere.  Since the electrons approximately follow the magnetic field lines, a map could thus be obtained connecting the point of emission with the point of detection.  Although the technique is sound, due to the inhomogeneity of the magnetic field, large distances covered by the beam, and limitations on the amount of current which can be produced by today's compact accelerators, detecting a signal at the atmosphere from a beam emitted deep inside the magnetosphere is extremely unlikely.  We propose a method of emitting an energetic electron beam from aboard an Earth orbiting spacecraft, located deep inside the magnetosphere, in such a way that the beam's signal at the atmosphere is enhanced, thereby enabling its detection and making field line mapping possible. 


U.S. Department of Energy
Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University.

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