TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 60 (No. 5), pp. 463-475, 2008

The ESPERIA satellite project for detecting seismo-associated effects in the topside ionosphere. First instrumental tests in space

V. Sgrigna1, A. Buzzi1, L. Conti1, P. Picozza2, C. Stagni1, and D. Zilpimiani3

1Department of Physics and INFN Branch, Roma Tre University 84, Via della Vasca Navale, 00146 Rome, Italy
2Department of Physics and INFN Branch, Tor Vergata University, Rome, Italy
3Institute of Geophysics, Georgian Academy of Sciences (GAS) and National Space Agency, Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia

(Received November 13, 2006; Revised September 13, 2007; Accepted October 24, 2007; Online published May 16, 2008)

Abstract: In recent times, ionospheric and magnetospheric perturbations constituted by radiation belt particle precipitations, variations of temperature and density of ionic and electronic components of ionospheric plasma as well as electric and magnetic field fluctuations have been detected on board of the LEO satellites and associated with earthquake preparation and occurrence. Several mechanisms have been suggested as justifying the seismo-electromagnetic phenomena observed in the upper lithosphere and in the topside ionosphere before, during and after an earthquake. Their propagation in these media has also been investigated, but physical knowledge of such processes is below standard. Consequently, coordinated space and ground-based observations based on data gathered simultaneously in space and at the Earth's surface are needed to investigate seismo-associated phenomena. To this end, the ESPERIA space mission project has been designed for the Italian Space Agency (ASI). To date, a few instruments of its payload have been built and tested in space. This paper reports on the justification, science background, and characteristics of the ESPERIA mission project as well as the description and testing of ESPERIA Instruments (ARINA and LAZIO-EGLE) in space.
Key words: Seismicity, earthquake precursors, seismo-electromagnetic emissions, satellite, ionosphere.

Corresponding author E-mail: sgrigna@fis.uniroma3.it

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