Some new features of electron density irregularities over SHAR during strong spread F
Abstract. An RH-560 rocket flight was conducted from Sriharikota rocket range (SHAR) (14°N, 80°E, dip latitude 5.5°N) to study electron density and electric field irregularities during spread F. The rocket was launched at 2130 local time (LT) and it attained an apogee of 348 km. Results of electron density fluctuations are presented here. Two extremely sharp layers of very high electron density were observed at 105 and 130 km. The electron density increase in these layers was by a factor of 50 in a vertical extent of 10 km. Large depletions in electron density were observed around 175 and 238 km. Both sharp layers as well as depletions were observed also during the descent. The presence of sharp layers and depletions during the ascent and the descent of the rocket as well as an order of magnitude less electron density, in 150-300 km region during the descent, indicate the presence of strong large-scale horizontal gradients in the electron density. Some of the valley region irregularities (165-178 km), in the intermediate scale size range, observed during this flight, show spectral peaks at 2 km and can be interpreted in terms of the image striation theory suggested by Vickrey et al. The irregularities at 176 km do not exhibit any peak at kilometer scales and appear to be of new type. The growth rate of intermediate scale size irregularities, produced through generalized Rayleigh Taylor instability, was calculated for the 200-330 km altitude, using observed values of electron density gradients and an assumed vertically downward wind of 20 ms-1. These growth rate calculations suggest that the observed irregularities could be produced by the gradient drift instability.
Key words: Ionosphere (equatorial ionosphere; ionospheric irregularities) - Radio science (ionospheric physics)