Near-field Interferometric Imaging of Lightning
Wednesday, 16 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
In the past, lightning interferometric mapping systems assumed that a source is very far from the measurement location. The assumption greatly simplifies the mathematics needed to locate the source, but the resulting source positions are limited to two spatial dimensions (azimuth and elevation). For short baseline systems, this assumption is very good because the source is almost always much farther away than the diameter of the array, making three-dimensional location all but impossible. By removing the far-field assumption, if the array is large enough it is possible to locate the source in three spatial dimensions using purely interferometric techniques. The purely interferometric method is quite different from the more typical time-of-arrival method. Instead of measuring arrival times or time differences of the radiation arriving at each station, a volume is imaged over a some integration period and then searched for a source. It is not necessary to know that a source exists in the integration period for the interferometric imaging technique to produce a well defined solution. Interferometric imaging can locate sources buried in noise, can locate both continuous and impulsive emission, and is capable of locating multiple simultaneously radiating sources. If the waveforms are corrected for propagation delay to the search volume, the integration period can be made arbitrarily small (limited only by the frequencies being observed), allowing the progression of lightning to be examined in detail. Near-field interferometry works equally well on a wide range of different signal types, from the LF to VHF bands in radio, or even on acoustic emissions from lightning. Near-field imaging can be used to correct the angular locations of short baseline systems when a source is very close to the array, or to produce full three-dimensional maps of lightning with long baseline arrays. Presented here are preliminary results of applying near-field interferometric imaging to the Broadband Observation network for Lightning and Thunderstorms (BOLT), a low frequency, long baseline network deployed around Osaka, Japan. Since the baselines are comparable to the distance between a sensor and a source, BOLT represents a very extreme example of near-field interferometry.