Articles | Volume 3, issue 1
Research article
13 Feb 2014
Research article |  | 13 Feb 2014

Interpretation of Cluster WBD frequency conversion mode data

J. S. Pickett, I. W. Christopher, and D. L. Kirchner

Abstract. The Cluster wide-band data (WBD) plasma wave receiver mounted on each of the four Cluster spacecraft obtains high time resolution waveform data in the frequency range of ~70 Hz to 577 kHz. In order to make measurements above 77 kHz, it uses frequency conversion to sample the higher frequency waves at one of three different conversion frequencies (~125, 250 and 500 kHz, these frequencies being the possible options for setting the base frequency of the frequency range being sampled) in one of three different filter bandwidths (9.5, 19 and 77 kHz). Within the WBD instrument, a down-conversion technique, built around quadrature mixing, is used to convert these data to baseband (0 kHz) in order to reduce the sample rate for telemetry to the ground. We describe this down-conversion technique and illustrate it through data obtained in space. Because these down-converted data sometimes contain pulses, which can be indicative of nonlinear physical structures (e.g., electron phase-space holes and electron density enhancements and depletions), it is necessary to understand what effects mixing and down conversion have on them. We present simulations using constructed signals containing pulses, nonlinear wave packets, sinusoids and noise. We show that the pulses and impulsive wave packets, if of sufficient amplitude and of appropriate width, survive the down-conversion process, sometimes with the same pulse shape but usually with reduced amplitude, and have timescales consistent with the filter bandwidth at the base frequency. Although we cannot infer the actual timescale of the pulses and impulsive wave packets as originally recorded by the WBD instrument before mixing and down conversion, their presence indicates nonlinear processes occurring at or somewhat near the location of the measurement. Sinusoidal waves are represented in the down-conversion timescale as sinusoids of nearly the same amplitude and at frequencies adjusted down by the conversion frequency. The original input waveforms, regardless of their shape, whether pulses or sinusoids, can never be recovered from the down-converted waveforms.