The Whisper Relaxation Sounder Onboard Cluster: A Powerful Tool for Space Plasma Diagnosis1, 2 around the Earth

Trotignon, J. G.; Décréau, P. M. E.; Rauch, J. L.; Guirriec, E. Le; Canu, P.; Darrouzet, F.
July 2003
Cosmic Research;Jul/Aug2003, Vol. 41 Issue 4, p345
Academic Journal
The WHISPER relaxation sounder that is onboard the four CLUSTER spacecraft has as its main scientific objectives to monitor the natural waves in the 2 kHz–80 kHz frequency range and, mostly, to determine the total plasma density from the solar wind down to the Earth's plasmasphere. To fulfill these objectives, the WHISPER uses the two long double sphere antennae of the Electric Field and Wave experiment as transmitting and receiving sensors. In its active working mode, the WHISPER works according to principles that have been worked out for topside sounding. A radio wave transmitter sends an almost monochromatic and short wave train. A few milliseconds after, a receiver listens to the surrounding plasma response. Strong and long lasting echoes are actually received whenever the transmitting frequencies coincide with characteristic plasma frequencies. Provided that these echoes, also called resonances, may be identified, the WHISPER relaxation sounder becomes a reliable and powerful tool for plasma diagnosis. When the transmitter is off, the WHISPER behaves like a passive receiver, allowing natural waves to be monitored. This paper aims mainly at the resonance identification process description and the WHISPER capabilities and performance highlighting.


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