Articles | Volume 27, issue 8
05 Aug 2009
 | 05 Aug 2009

Spatial aliasing and distortion of energy distribution in the wave vector domain under multi-spacecraft measurements

Y. Narita and K.-H. Glassmeier

Abstract. Aliasing is a general problem in the analysis of any measurements that make sampling at discrete points. Sampling in the spatial domain results in a periodic pattern of spectra in the wave vector domain. This effect is called spatial aliasing, and it is of particular importance for multi-spacecraft measurements in space. We first present the theoretical background of aliasing problems in the frequency domain and generalize it to the wave vector domain, and then present model calculations of spatial aliasing. The model calculations are performed for various configurations of the reciprocal vectors and energy spectra or distribution that are placed at different positions in the wave vector domain, and exhibit two effects on aliasing. One is weak aliasing, in which the true spectrum is distorted because of non-uniform aliasing contributions in the Brillouin zone. It is demonstrated that the energy distribution becomes elongated in the shortest reciprocal lattice vector direction in the wave vector domain. The other effect is strong aliasing, in which aliases have a significant contribution in the Brillouin zone and the energy distribution shows a false peak. These results give a caveat in multi-spacecraft data analysis in that spectral anisotropy obtained by a measurement has in general two origins: (1) natural and physical origins like anisotropy imposed by a mean magnetic field or a flow direction; and (2) aliasing effects that are imposed by the configuration of the measurement array (or the set of reciprocal vectors). This manuscript also discusses a possible method to estimate aliasing contributions in the Brillouin zone based on the measured spectrum and to correct the spectra for aliasing.