Geometric modulation: A more effective method of steerable ELF/VLFwave generation with continuous HF heating of the lower ionosphere
M. B. Cohen,
U. S. Inan,
and M. A. Golkowski
Received 19 March 2008; revised 23 April 2008; accepted 8 May 2008; published 18 June 2008.
] ELF/VLF radio waves (300 Hz–30 kHz) are difficult to generate with practical antennae, because of their extraordinarily long (10–1000 km) wavelengths, and thelossy nature of the Earth’s surface at these frequencies.ELF/VLF waves have been successfully generated viaamplitude modulated (AM) HF (2–10 MHz) heating of the lower ionosphere. Through the temperature-dependent conductivity of the lower ionospheric plasma, a patch of the ionospheric current becomes a large radiating‘antenna’. We implement a new method of ELF/VLFwave generation, herein named ‘geometric modulation’,involving scanning the HF heating beam in a geometricpattern without modulating its power. Utilizing resultsfrom the upgraded 3.6 MW radiated HAARP HF antennaarray, we show that geometric modulation can enhance ELF/ VLF wave generation by up to
11 dB over the conventionalAM method. Geometric modulation also allows directionallaunching of the signal into the Earth-ionosphere waveguide,forming an unprecedented steerable large-element ELF/VLFionospheric phased array.
Cohen, M. B., U. S. Inan,and M. A. Golowski (2008), Geometric modulation: A moreeffective method of steerable ELF/VLF wave generation withcontinuous HF heating of the lower ionosphere,
Geophys. Res. Lett.
, L12101, doi:10.1029/2008GL034061.
] The generation of radio waves of Extremely LowFrequency and Very Low Frequency (ELF/VLF, 0.3– 30 kHz) has long been a challenge for scientists andengineers. With wavelengths of
10–1000 km, acceptablyefficient radiating antennae require similar length scales.This problem is exacerbated by the good conductivity of theEarth’s surface at these frequencies (
S/m), so that ahorizontal radiating antenna along the ground suffers thehindrance of an image current just below the ground plane.[
] ELF/VLF frequencies have important scientific andpractical uses, due to the efficient propagation of ELF/VLFsignals in the Earth-ionosphere waveguide (EIW). ELF/ VLF waves impact the physical processes at play in theionosphere and magnetosphere (see
Barr et al.
 for areview) and can be an effective diagnostic tool. HF heatingof the lower ionosphere in the presence of natural currentsconstitutes one of the few effective means of ELF/VLFwave generation, and thus has remained a subject of activeresearch since the first demonstration by
Getmantsev et al.
] The ionospheric observatories near Arecibo, PuertoRico [
Ferraro et al.
, 1982], and Jicamarca, Peru [
Lunnen et al.
, 1984], generated weak (<1 fT) ELF signals utilizing theequatorial dynamo current. High latitude facilities utilizingthe auroral electrojet have generated stronger (>1 pT) ELF/ VLF signals. The HIPAS facility near Fairbanks, Alaska,utilizes a 150 kW transmitter array operating at 2.85 MHz[e.g.,
Villasen˜or et al.
, 1996]. The 1 MW radiated EISCATfacility near Tromsø, Norway, has performed ELF/VLFexperiments [e.g.,
Stubbe et al.
, 1982], including an HFbeam steering ability utilized by
Rietveld et al.
 toobserve electrojet spatial structure.[
] More recently, the High Frequency Active AuroralResearch Program (HAARP) phased-array HF facility near Gakona, Alaska (62
W), has generated ELFsignals observed as far as 4400 km [
Moore et al.
, 2007], aswell as in the geomagnetic conjugate region [
Inan et al.
,2004; M. Golkowski et al., Magnetospheric amplificationand emission triggering by ELF/VLF waves injected by the3.6 MW HAARP ionospheric heater, submitted to
Journal of Geophysical Research
, 2008]. In 2007, an upgrade of HAARP was completed, increasing its HF radiated power from 960 kW to 3.6 MW [
Cohen et al.
, 2008]. Thegeneration of ELF/VLF waves via HF heating is stronglyaffected by D-region electron density and auroral electrojet strength, however, HF heating parameter choice (frequency,beam direction, power, etc.) is quite important.[
Papadopoulos et al.
 suggest a so-called ‘beampainting’ technique, i.e., moving a high-power HF beamover a large area during the heating period at a rate faster than the electrons cool followed by HF OFF period tocomplete the AM cycle., though here we report a techniquein which the beam moves at rates (a few kHz) substantiallyslower than the 10s of
s cooling rates [
Barr et al.
, 1999],with a continuously ON beam.
Papadopoulos et al.
Borisov et al.
 also theorized ELF/VLF injectioninto the EIW and magnetosphere via Cerenkov radiationfrom a source moving along a line at speeds near or abovethe phase velocity of propagating waves.[
] Efforts to generate an ELF/VLF directional arrayhave been very limited.
Barr et al.
 alternate theHF beam between two regions using the Tromsø facility,with half the ELF/VLF cycle at each. The observationsresembled those of an array with two antiphase elements.
Werner and Ferraro
 theoretically investigated iono-spheric ELF/VLF arrays.[
] In this paper, we implement a new technique, hereafter referred to as ‘geometric modulation’ (and abbreviated GM),in which the beam scans in a geometric pattern at ELF/VLFrates,withnopowermodulation.Theperiodoftraversing thegeometric pattern dictates the fundamental ELF/VLF modu-lation frequency, so that ON-OFF modulation is achieved
GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH LETTERS, VOL. 35, L12101, doi:10.1029/2008GL034061, 2008
STAR Laboratory, Department of Electrical Engineering, StanfordUniversity, Stanford, California, USA.Copyright 2008 by the American Geophysical Union.0094-8276/08/2008GL034061$05.00
1 of 6