The FSUE Central Research Institute of Machine Building (TsNIIMash), Rocket and Space Corporation “Energia”, and Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics of Siberian Branch of Russian Academy of Sciences (ISTP SB RAS) jointly conducted the active space experiment “Radar-Progress” in 2007–2015. During this experiment, we used the Irkutsk Incoherent Scatter Ra-dar to study space-time characteristics of ionospheric disturbances generated by exhaust products of “Pro-gress” cargo spacecraft engines. As the basic effect dur-ing exhaust product injection we consider the formation of new centers for recombination of ambient iono-spheric ions O+ on molecules of water and carbon diox-ide. This produces an ionization “hole” in the region of injection. In nighttime conditions when the majority of experiments were performed, this hole was filled by hydrogen ions from the plasmasphere, thus the ion composition in the vicinity of the hole and incoherent scatter spectra were changed. For successful obser-vation of the ionization hole dynamics, the critical fac-tors are the degree of radar antenna diagram filling by exhaust products and the velocity of the thermospheric neutral wind, which makes exhaust gases move from the antenna diagram. These two factors lead to poor repeatability of successful experiments. Successful experiments recorded a decrease in electron density up to 35 % in the hole that existed for 30 min. The lifetime of the region with high concentration of H+ ions can be as long as one hour.
ionosphere, electron density, active space experiments, exhaust product injection into ionospheric plasma
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