Western University Physics adn AstronomyWestern Science

Detection of Very-Low Frequency radiation from bright fireballs

Supervisor: Dr. Peter Brown

Project Description (Abstract):

This project involves deployment of a three channel very-low frequency (VLF) receiver for detection of VLF emissions from bright fireballs. VLF emission has been theoretically predicted to occur under some ablation conditions for larger fireballs, but observational verification of this prediction has been lacking. This project will make use of existing records from a three channel VLF receiver deployed at the Elginfield observatory to correlate signals with optical fireballs detected by the Southern Ontario Meteor Network. These correlated measurements will include time correlation of broad spectrum emission potentially from a particular fireball validated against spatial correlation provided by the three axis antenna system which acts as a low precision direction finder for VLF emission. The project will involve some electronic construction and testing (amplifiers for the VLF antennas), some software development for data collection and analysis. The result of the project will be the first calibrated survey of fireball VLF emission which may then be compared directly to theoretical predictions. 

The student will help calibrate the VLF receiver, including development of a direction-finding algorithm to determine arrival direction for VLF signals. Additionally, the student will examine existing VLF-optical data collected over the last two years to correlate VLF signals with automatically detected optical fireballs to isolate possible VLF emission. Once signals are found, the student will perform basic signal processing to extract amplitude and frequency content of the resulting signal and compute electric field strength at the antenna based on the signal and calibrations.

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