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A new high-voltage electric field instrument for studying sprites

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3 Author(s)
Thomas, J.N. ; Dept. of Earth & Space Sci., Univ. of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA ; Holzworth, R. ; Chin, J.

The high-voltage (HV) electric field detector is a new high-voltage, high-impedance, double Langmuir probe instrument designed for stratospheric electric field measurements. In the Sprite Balloon Campaign 2002-2003, this HV instrument was used to measure electric fields between 100 and 200 V/m associated with lightning discharges, which is nearly an order of magnitude higher than previously reported above 30 km in altitude. This increased range is made possible by the availability of new low-leakage HV operational amplifiers. This is a critical instrument, since a large quasi-DC electric field associated with positive cloud-to-ground lightning is a primary component of most sprite generation mechanisms. The difficulty that exists when making electric field measurements in the high-resistance environment of the stratosphere is presented, and how this difficulty is remedied is described. The HV detector is compared to another electric field instrument, the low-voltage detector, used simultaneously on the Sprite Balloon Campaign to verify the accuracy of the HV probes. Finally, a large field perturbation (Ez≈-101 V/m and Ex≈79 V/m) measured by the HV detector during Flight 1, correlated with nearby +15-kA and +53-kA cloud-to-ground strokes, is presented.

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Geoscience and Remote Sensing, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:42 ,  Issue: 7 )