VLF waves at satellite altitude to investigate Earth electrical conductivity

Type Article
Date 2015-03
Language English
Author(s) Leye P. O.1, Tarits Pascal1
Affiliation(s) 1 : European Inst Marine Studies, Plouzane, France.
Source Radio Science (0048-6604) (Amer Geophysical Union), 2015-03 , Vol. 50 , N. 3 , P. 264-281
DOI 10.1002/2014RS005532
WOS© Times Cited 2
Keyword(s) VLF, satellite, Earth

At and near the Earth surface, electromagnetic (EM) fields radiated from VLF transmitters are commonly used in geological exploration to determine the shallow Earth conductivity structure. Onboard satellites such as DEMETER, the electric and magnetic sensors detect the VLF signal in altitude. While we know for surface measurement that the VLF EM field recorded at some distance from the transmitter is a function of the ground conductivity, we do not know how this relationship changes when the field is measured at satellite altitude. Here we study the electromagnetic field radiated by a vertical electric dipole located on the Earth surface in the VLF range and measured at satellite altitude in a free space. We investigate the EM field as function of distance from the source, the height above the Earth surface, and the electrical conductivity of the Earth. The mathematical solution in altitude has more severe numerical complications than the well-known solutions at or near the Earth surface. We test most of the solutions developed for the latter case and found that direct summation was best at several hundred kilometers above the Earth. The numerical modeling of the EM field in altitude shows that the field remains a function of Earth conductivity. The dependence weakens with altitude and distance from the transmitter. It remains more important for the electric radial component.

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