University of Crete Island of Crete

The formation, evolution and radar reflection from meteor trail plasma irregularities

Lars Dyrud1, Meers Oppenheim2 E. Kudeki3, Sigrid Close4, Diego Janches5
  1. Center for Remote Sensing Inc., Fairfax, VA, USA (
  2. Boston University, Boston, MA, USA
  3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA
  4. Las Alamos National Laboratory, Las Alamos, NM, USA
  5. CoRA/NWRA, Boulder, CO, USA

We have understood for over a decade that radars pointed perpendicular to the Earth’s geomagnetic field are capable of observing a unique variety of echoes from meteor trails.  Such echoes have been termed anomalous echoes, range-spread trails, and we have adopted non-specular echoes to differentiate them from their specular counterparts which are traditionally observed with meteor radars. The Earth is continuously bombarded by meteoroids, and because most of this flux is comprised of very small meteors of the order of 1 microgram, they are either undetected, or measured only by radars.  Significant uncertainties in this flux, and a desire to better understand E-region plasma physics has motivated an effort to understand and explain these non-specular trail observations.  We have used plasma simulation and theory to demonstrate that meteor trails are unstable to the growth of a variety of gradient-drift Farley-Buneman (GDFB) waves that become turbulent and generate large B-field aligned irregularities (FAI).  This talk shall focus on describing meteor trail instability theory, together with the inclusion of this theory in a model of meteor trail evolution, which is used to produce simulated radar observations.  We shall present comparisons between these simulated radar observations and non-specular trail observations to demonstrate the capacity of this model to explain observed features, and eventually extract information about the observed meteors and the atmosphere and ionosphere that they are generated in

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