Altitudinal dependence of meteor radio afterglows measured via optical counterparts

K. S. Obenberger, J. M. Holmes, J. D. Dowell, F. K. Schinzel, K. Stovall, E. K. Sutton, G. B. Taylor

Geophysical Research Letters 43
DOI: 10.1002/2016GL070059


“Key Points

We have measured the positions of 44 meteor radio afterglows
Meteor trails above 90 km are strongly preferred to produce radio emission
This dependence agrees with the plasma emission hypothesis”

“Utilizing the all-sky imaging capabilities of the first station of the Long Wavelength Array along with a host of all-sky optical cameras, we have now observed 44 optical meteor counterparts to radio afterglows. Combining these observations, we have determined the geographic positions of all 44 afterglows. Comparing the number of radio detections as a function of altitude above sea level to the number of expected bright meteors, we find a strong altitudinal dependence characterized by a cutoff below ∼90 km, below which no radio emission occurs, despite the fact that many of the observed optical meteors penetrated well below this altitude. This cutoff suggests that wave damping from electron collisions is an important factor for the evolution of radio afterglows. This finding agrees with the hypothesis that the emission is the result of electron plasma wave emission.”