Date of Award


Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical & Computer Engineering


Electrical, Computer, Software, and Systems Engineering

Committee Advisor

Dr. William C. Barott

First Committee Member

Dr. Jianhua Liu

Second Committee Member

Dr. William Engblom


Charged rocket plumes generally exceed the length of their source vehicles, and offer lightning a favorable path to ground. Rocket plumes enhance the induced transient currents in flight electronics, and increase the risk of vehicle failure. The affinity of lightning to the plume can be associated with the plume's electrical properties, which are coupled to plasma characteristics including the electron number density. However, the electron number density of rocket plumes is not well-known. In this study, the electron number density is characterized through data from static rocket firings. A model of the plume in finite difference time domain (FDTD) simulations also supports the results. Radio frequency and radar methodologies are used to characterize the plume as a dynamic component of an electrical system, supported by the construction of an RF apparatus that includes the design and manufacture of ultra-wideband antenna arrays. The research estimates electron number density using methods exploiting signal processing techniques in time and frequency domain, but the data suggests that other dynamic elements influence delay and attenuation of the radio signal.