• Optical observations of critical ionization velocity chemical releases in the ionosphere: The role of collisions

      Hampton, Donald Loyd (1996)
      In recent years researchers have pointed out the importance of collisional processes in ionospheric chemical releases performed to study Alfven's critical ionization velocity effect (CIV). Ionizing collisions, including charge exchange with ambient O$\sp+$ and associative ionization, can not only help initiate CIV, but can also lead to 'contamination' of the ion cloud. Most of the proposed collisions have associated emissions which should be observable with sensitive detectors, but until now have not been attempted since atomic processes had not been considered important. The first four releases of the CRRES satellite were performed to study CIV. The releases were at local dusk over the south Pacific in September, 1990, and were observed from two aircraft with low light level cameras, both filtered and broadband. Ion inventories of the releases show ionization yields (number of ions per number of available neutrals) of 0.02% for Sr, 0.15% for the first Ba release, 0.27% for Ca and 1.48 for the second Ba release. The release clouds were seen to glow quite strongly, below the terminator. The measured light is found to be primarily from line emissions which indicates that it is due to collisional processes in the release cloud. Two measurements were made on the release cloud data; (1) the absolute intensity of the release clouds and (2) the ratio between a broadband intensified CCD (ICCD) and an imaging photon detector filtered for the Ba$\sp+$ 455.4 nm emission line. The measured ratio is compared to the expected ratio for charge exchange collisions, and to electron impact excitation of Ba. The measured ratio is consistent with emissions being from charge exchange collisions. However, when compared to the total intensity of emissions expected from charge exchange, the absolute intensity in the release cloud measured by the ICCD is five times greater. The two measurements are in conflict, and with this limited set of data cannot be fully resolved. The ratio measurement does indicate that any CIV discharge in the Ba releases was extremely weak, and that charge exchange is the dominant collisional process in Ba releases.