On the Possibility of Using ULF/ELF Electromagnetic Waves from Undersea Cables to Detect Airplanes Submerged in the Ocean

Authors

  • Dallin R. Smith Air Force Research Labs Albuquerque, NM 87117, USA
  • Jamesina J. Simpson Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA

Keywords:

Airplane, extremely-low frequency, FDTD, ocean, ultra-low frequency

Abstract

The loss of Malaysian Flight on March 8, 2014, and the subsequent lengthy search for the aircraft highlights the need for an effective detection system for locating airplanes that have crashed into the ocean. The goal of this paper is to test the feasibility of detecting submerged airplanes using ultra-low frequency and/ or extremely-low frequency electromagnetic signals generated by undersea cables located along the bottom of the ocean. The proposed detection system is tested using three-dimensional finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) modeling of the cable source, ocean water, ground, and submerged object (aircraft). The perturbation caused by the object is obtained for different positions of the object relative to the cable source. The magnitude of the perturbation is compared to the expected background level for a depth of 3 km into the ocean. A sensor array is proposed for detecting objects within several km of the cable.

Author Biographies

Dallin R. Smith, Air Force Research Labs Albuquerque, NM 87117, USA

Dallin R. Smith received the B.S. in Physics from Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, USA, in 2016, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA, in 2019 and 2020, respectively. He is a Research Engineer in the Geospace Environment Impacts and Application Branch with the Space Vehicles Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Albuquerque, NM, USA.

Jamesina J. Simpson, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA

Jamesina J. Simpson received the B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA, in 2003 and 2007, respectively. She is an Associate Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA. Her research lab encompasses the application of the full-vector Maxwell's equations finitedifference time-domain (FDTD) method to electromagnetic wave propagation spanning 15 orders of magnitude across the electromagnetic spectrum. In particular, her group specializes in electromagnetic wave propagation within the global Earth-ionosphere waveguide. She received a 2010 National Science Foundation CAREER award, the 2012 IEEE AP-S Donald G. Dudley, Jr. Undergraduate Teaching Award, the 2017 URSI Santimay Basu Medal, and the 2020 IEEE AP-S Lot Shafai Mid-Career Distinguished Achievement Award.

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Published

2021-07-16

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