Some Considerations of near-Earth Space as a Gaseous Dielectric

  • William J. Burke


My assigned topic, the gaseous dielectric properties of matter resident in near-Earth space, is unusual. It is necessary first to identify the diverse plasma populations, then explain the sense in which they may be regarded as gaseous dielectrics. We focus specifically on regions called the ionosphere and the magnetosphere. The ionosphere is a layer of cold plasma that extends from < 100 to >IOOO km above the Earth. This plasma is created by solar ultraviolet light and by energetic particles from the magnetosphere. It is usually divided into D, E, and F layers. The D and E layers range in altitude from 60–95 km and 100–150 km, respectively. Outside the auroral oval they are mostly dayside features that disappear due to ion-electron recombination after sunset. Maximum plasma densities of ~106 cm−3 occur at F layer altitudes between 300 and 400 km on the dayside.


Solar Wind Interplanetary Magnetic Field Magnetic Field Line Plasma Sheet Radiation Belt 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • William J. Burke
    • 1
  1. 1.Space Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Research LaboratoryHanscom Air Force BaseUSA

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