A Large-Scale Hole in the Ionosphere Caused by the Launch of Skylab

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Science  31 Jan 1975:
Vol. 187, Issue 4174, pp. 343-346
DOI: 10.1126/science.187.4174.343


A dramatic ionospheric phenomenon, unique in magnitude and in spatial and temporal extent, occurred along the Atlantic Coast of North America after the launch of the NASA Skylab Workshop on 14 May 1973. The effect was a large and rapid decrease in the total number of ionospheric electrons within a distance of 1000 kilometers of the burning engines of the Saturn V launch vehicle. The observations are interpreted in terms of exceptionally enhanced chemical loss rates due to the molecular hydrogen and water vapor contained in the Saturn second-stage exhaust plume.