Researchers See Ionospheric Signature of North Korean Nuclear Test

February 15, 2013  - By
Image: GPS World

The explosion of an underground nuclear device by North Korea this week disturbed the Earth’s ionosphere. The blast generated infrasonic waves that propagated all the way to the upper atmosphere causing small variations in the density of electrons there.

By analyzing the signals from GPS satellites collected at ground-based monitoring stations in South Korea and Japan, scientists at the California Institute of Technology’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Purdue University, and the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology independently confirmed the ionospheric disturbance generated by the North Korean test.

The researchers used the same GPS signals that are used by surveyors for precise positioning. These signals are slightly perturbed as they transit the ionosphere, and by processing the collected data with sophisticated software, the researchers were able to detect the small effect that the explosion-induced atmospheric waves had on the distribution of the ionosphere’s electrons.

The same technique is being used by the researchers and others to study the ionospheric effects from natural hazards such as tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

A team from The Ohio State University and Miami University are engaged in a similar project.

This article is tagged with , , , and posted in Latest News