Antarctic Surface Reflectivity Measurements from the ANITA-3 and HiCal-1 Experiments [IMA]

The primary science goal of the NASA-sponsored ANITA project is measurement of ultra-high energy neutrinos and cosmic rays, observed via radio-frequency signals resulting from a neutrino- or cosmic ray- interaction with terrestrial matter (atmospheric or ice molecules, e.g.). Accurate inference of the energies of these cosmic rays requires understanding the transmission/reflection of radio wave signals across the ice-air boundary. Satellite-based measurements of Antarctic surface reflectivity, using a co-located transmitter and receiver, have been performed more-or-less continuously for the last few decades. Satellite-based reflectivity surveys, at frequencies ranging from 2–45 GHz and at near-normal incidence, yield generally consistent reflectivity maps across Antarctica. Using the Sun as an RF source, and the ANITA-3 balloon borne radio-frequency antenna array as the RF receiver, we have also measured the surface reflectivity over the interval 200-1000 MHz, at elevation angles of 12-30 degrees, finding agreement with the Fresnel equations within systematic errors. To probe low incidence angles, inaccessible to the Antarctic Solar technique and not probed by previous satellite surveys, a novel experimental approach (“HiCal-1”) was devised. Unlike previous measurements, HiCal-ANITA constitute a bi-static transmitter-receiver pair separated by hundreds of kilometers. Data taken with HiCal, between 200–600 MHz shows a significant departure from the Fresnel equations, constant with frequency over that band, with the deficit increasing with obliquity of incidence, which we attribute to the combined effects of possible surface roughness, surface grain effects, radar clutter and/or shadowing of the reflection zone due to Earth curvature effects.

Read this paper on arXiv…

P. Gorham, P. Allison, O. Banerjee, et. al.
Thu, 2 Mar 17

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