Articles | Volume 31, issue 2
Ann. Geophys., 31, 187–196, 2013

Special issue: Structure, composition, and dynamics of the middle atmosphere...

Ann. Geophys., 31, 187–196, 2013

Regular paper 07 Feb 2013

Regular paper | 07 Feb 2013

Payload charging events in the mesosphere and their impact on Langmuir type electric probes

T. A. Bekkeng1, A. Barjatya2, U.-P. Hoppe1,*, A. Pedersen1, J. I. Moen1, M. Friedrich3, and M. Rapp4,** T. A. Bekkeng et al.
  • 1University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1048, Blindern 0316, Norway
  • 2Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, 600 S. Clyde Morris Blvd., Daytona Beach, FL 32114, USA
  • 3Institute of Communication Networks and Satellite Communications, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria
  • 4Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Kühlungsborn, Germany
  • *on leave from: Norwegian Defence Research Establishment (FFI), Kjeller, Norway
  • **now at: Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, Institut für Physik der Atmosphäre, Wessling, Germany

Abstract. Three sounding rockets were launched from Andøya Rocket Range in the ECOMA campaign in December 2010. The aim was to study the evolution of meteoric smoke particles during a major meteor shower. Of the various instruments onboard the rocket payload, this paper presents the data from a multi-Needle Langmuir Probe (m-NLP) and a charged dust detector. The payload floating potential, as observed using the m-NLP instrument, shows charging events on two of the three flights. These charging events cannot be explained using a simple charging model, and have implications towards the use of fixed bias Langmuir probes on sounding rockets investigating mesospheric altitudes. We show that for a reliable use of a single fixed bias Langmuir probe as a high spatial resolution relative density measurement, each payload should also carry an additional instrument to measure payload floating potential, and an instrument that is immune to spacecraft charging and measures absolute plasma density.