Planetary radio astronomy experiment for Voyager missions

Abstract

The planetary radio astronomy experiment will measure radio spectra of planetary emissions in the range 1.2 kHz to 40.5 MHz. These emissions result from wave-particle-plasma interactions in the magnetospheres and ionospheres of the planets. At Jupiter, they are strongly modulated by the Galilean satellite Io.

As the spacecraft leave the Earth's vicinity, we will observe terrestrial kilometric radiation, and for the first time, determine its polarization (RH and LH power separately). At the giant planets, the source of radio emission at low frequencies is not understood, but will be defined through comparison of the radio emission data with other particles and fields experiments aboard Voyager, as well as with optical data. Since, for Jupiter, as for the Earth, the radio data quite probably relate to particle precipitation, and to magnetic field strength and orientation in the polar ionosphere, we hope to be able to elucidate some characteristics of Jupiter auroras.

Together with the plasma wave experiment, and possibly several optical experiments, our data can demonstrate the existence of lightning on the giant planets and on the satellite Titan, should it exist. Finally, the Voyager missions occur near maximum of the sunspot cycle. Solar outburst types can be identified through the radio measurements; when the spacecraft are on the opposite side of the Sun from the Earth we can identify solar flare-related events otherwise invisible on the Earth.

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Warwick, J.W., Pearce, J.B., Peltzer, R.G. et al. Planetary radio astronomy experiment for Voyager missions. Space Sci Rev 21, 309–327 (1977). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00211544

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Keywords

  • Magnetic Field Strength
  • Radio Emission
  • Plasma Wave
  • Particle Precipitation
  • Radio Spectrum