Structured waves near the plasma frequency observed in three auroral rocket flights
We present observations of waves at and just above the plasma frequency ( fpe) from three high frequency electric field experiments on three recent rockets launched to altitudes of 300–900 km in active aurora. The predominant observed HF waves just above fpe are narrowband, short-lived emissions with amplitudes ranging from <1 mV/m to 20 mV/m, often associated with structured electron density. The nature of these HF waves, as determined from frequency-time spectrograms, is highly variable: in some cases, the frequency decreases monotonically with time as in the "HF-chirps" previously reported (McAdams and LaBelle, 1999), but in other cases rising frequencies are observed, or features which alternately rise and fall in frequency. They exhibit two timescales of amplitude variation: a short timescale, typically 50–100 ms, associated with individual discrete features, and a longer timescale associated with the general decrease in the amplitudes of the emissions as the rocket moves away from where the condition f~ fpe holds. The latter timescale ranges from 0.6 to 6.0 s, corresponding to distances of 2–7 km, assuming the phenomenon to be stationary and using the rocket velocity to convert time to distance.