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Terrestrial Radio (Thunderstorm) Noise

NSSDCA ID: 1967-042A-04

Mission Name: Ariel 3
Principal Investigator:Mr. John A. Murphy


The terrestrial radio noise experiment was designed to measure the flux of radio frequency energy, at satellite altitude, from thunderstorms and other natural terrestrial sources at six selected frequencies. The experiment incorporated three pairs of crystal controlled high-frequency receivers that operated at 4.998 and 5.002 MHz, 9.998 and 10.002 MHz, and 14.996 and 15.004 MHz. Each receiver had a bandwidth of 1580 Hz and measured the average voltage of the terrestrial radio noise generated. The receivers also measured, up to a specified maximum rate, the number of lightning discharges received. An onboard tape recorder stored the outputs from the experiment every 28 s throughout an orbit. The most useful information was obtained at the frequency that was just greater than the ionospheric critical frequency at that time. At lower frequencies, the radio noise did not penetrate the ionosphere, and at much higher frequencies, the radio noise was received from too large an area. The experiment was supported by ground observations from which thunderstorms were plotted by a direction-finding network in Europe. The experiment functioned satisfactorily from launch until it was programmed off in August 1969. For a more complete description of the experiment, see F. Horner and R. B. Bent, "Reception in space of H.F. noise from thunderstorms," Proc. Ariel III symposium (held May 22 and 23, 1968, GSFC, Greenbelt, Maryland), pp. 181-200, 1968.

Alternate Names

  • Ariel3/TerrestrialRadio_Thunderstorm_Noise
  • Terrestrial Radio Noise

Facts in Brief

Mass: 2.6 kg
Power (avg): 0.5 W

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)


  • Earth Science: Atmospheric Dynamics

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this experiment can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. John A. MurphyPrincipal InvestigatorRutherford Appleton Laboratory
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