Pioneer 6: Measurement of Transient Faraday Rotation Phenomena Observed during Solar Occultation

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Science  31 Oct 1969:
Vol. 166, Issue 3905, pp. 596-598
DOI: 10.1126/science.166.3905.596


Pioneer 6, which was launched into orbit around the sun on 16 December 1965, was occulted by the sun in the last half of November 1968. During the period in which the spacecraft was occulted by the solar corona, the S-band telemetry carrier underwent Faraday rotation as a result of this anisotropic plasma. The NASA-Jet Propulsion Laboratory 210-foot (64-meter) antenna of the Deep Space Network at Barstow, California, which was equipped with an automatic polarization tracking system, was used to measure this effect. Three large-scale transient phenomena were observed. The measurement of these phenomena indicated that Faraday rotation on the order of 40 degrees occurred. The duration of each phenomenon was approximately 2 hours. These phenomena appear to be correlated with observations of solar radio bursts with wavelengths in the dekametric region.

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