US Air Force wants to plasma bomb the sky using tiny satellites

Posted by K R on

Can you hear me now? The US Air Force is working on plans to improve radio communication over long distances by detonating plasma bombs in the upper atmosphere using a fleet of micro satellites. Since the early days of radio, we’ve known that reception is sometimes better at night. Radio stations that cannot be picked up by day may be heard clearly at night, transmitting from hundreds of kilometres away. This is down to changes in the ionosphere, a layer of charged particles in the atmosphere that starts around 60 kilometres up. The curvature of Earth stops most ground-based radio signals travelling more than 70 kilometres without a boost. But by bouncing between the ionosphere and the ground they can zigzag for much greater distances. At night the density of the ionosphere’s charged particles is higher, making it more reflective. This is not the first time we’ve tinkered with the ionosphere to try to improve radio communication and enhance the range of over-the-horizon radar. HAARP, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program in Alaska, stimulates the ionosphere with radiation from an array of ground-based antennas to produce radio-reflecting plasma. Direct delivery Now the USAF wants to do this more efficiently, with tiny cubesats, for example, carrying large volumes of ionised gas directly into the ionosphere. As well as increasing the range of radio signals, the USAF says it wants to smooth out the effects of solar winds, which can knock out GPS, and also investigate the possibility of blocking communication from enemy satellites.

Read More: New Scientist


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