ABSTRACT: Monochromatic all-sky imagers at South Pole and other Antarctic stations of the Automatic Geophysical Observatory chain recorded the aurora in the region where the Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) satellites crossed the dayside magnetopause. In several cases the magnetic field lines threading the satellites when mapped to the atmosphere were inside the imagers' field of view. From the THEMIS magnetic field and the plasma density measurements, we were able to locate the position of the magnetopause crossings and map it to the ionosphere using the Tsyganenko-96 field model. Field line mapping is reasonably accurate on the dayside subsolar region where the field is strong, almost dipolar even though compressed. From these coordinated observations, we were able to prove that the dayside cusp aurora of high 630?nm brightness is on open field lines, and it is therefore direct precipitation from the magnetosheath. The cusp aurora contained significant highly structured N2+ 427.8?nm emission. The THEMIS measurements of the magnetosheath particle energy and density taken just outside the magnetopause compared to the intensity of the structured N2+ 427.8?nm emissions showed that the precipitating magnetosheath particles had to be accelerated. The most likely electron acceleration mechanism is by dispersive Alfvén waves propagating along the field line. Wave-accelerated suprathermal electrons were seen by FAST and DMSP. The 427.8?nm wavelength channel also shows the presence of a lower latitude hard-electron precipitation zone originating inside the magnetosphere.
Project description:Earth's cusp proton aurora occurs near the prenoon and is primarily produced by the precipitation of solar energetic (2-10 keV) protons. Cusp auroral precipitation provides a direct source of energy for the high-latitude dayside upper atmosphere, contributing to chemical composition change and global climate variability. Previous studies have indicated that magnetic reconnection allows solar energetic protons to cross the magnetopause and enter the cusp region, producing cusp auroral precipitation. However, energetic protons are easily trapped in the cusp region due to a minimum magnetic field existing there. Hence, the mechanism of cusp proton aurora has remained a significant challenge for tens of years. Based on the satellite data and calculations of diffusion equation, we demonstrate that EMIC waves can yield the trapped proton scattering that causes cusp proton aurora. This moves forward a step toward identifying the generation mechanism of cusp proton aurora.
Project description:Abstract In this study, the ion composition of flux transfer events (FTEs) observed within the magnetosheath proper is examined. These FTEs were observed just upstream of the Earth's postnoon magnetopause by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft constellation. The minor ion characteristics are described using energy spectrograms, flux distributions, and ion moments as the constellation encountered each FTE. In conjunction with electron data and magnetic field observations, such observations provide important contextual information on the formation, topologies, and evolution of FTEs. In particular, minor ions, when combined with the field?aligned streaming of electrons, are reliable indicators of FTE topology. The observations are also placed (i) in context of the solar wind magnetic field configuration, (ii) the connection of the sampled flux tube to the ionosphere, and (iii) the location relative to the modeled reconnection line at the magnetopause. While protons and alpha particles were often depleted within the FTEs relative to the surrounding magnetosheath plasma, the He+ and O+ populations showed clear enhancements either near the center or near the edges of the FTE, and the bulk plasma flow directions are consistent with magnetic reconnection northward of the spacecraft and convection from the dayside toward the flank magnetopause. Key Points Long?duration magnetosheath FTEs observed under at postnoon local times and under similar solar wind conditions are compared and contrasted Minor ions from the magnetosphere are observed at higher energies at the edges than at the center of the FTEs The cores of the magnetosheath FTEs are on closed field lines
Project description:Magnetic reconnection is believed to be the dominant process by which solar wind plasma enters the magnetosphere. However, for periods of northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) reconnection is less likely at the dayside magnetopause, and Kelvin-Helmholtz waves (KHWs) may be important agents for plasma entry and for the excitation of ultra-low-frequency (ULF) waves. The relative importance of KHWs is controversial because no statistical data on their occurrence frequency exist. Here we survey 7 years of in situ data from the NASA THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macro scale Interactions during Substorms) mission and find that KHWs occur at the magnetopause ?19% of the time. The rate increases with solar wind speed, Alfven Mach number and number density, but is mostly independent of IMF magnitude. KHWs may thus be more important for plasma transport across the magnetopause than previously thought, and frequently drive magnetospheric ULF waves.
Project description:Violent releases of space plasma energy from the Earth's magnetotail during substorms produce strong electric currents and bright aurora. But what modulates these currents and aurora and controls dissipation of the energy released in the ionosphere? Using data from the THEMIS fleet of satellites and ground-based imagers and magnetometers, we show that plasma energy dissipation is controlled by field-aligned currents (FACs) produced and modulated during magnetotail topology change and oscillatory braking of fast plasma jets at 10-14 Earth radii in the nightside magnetosphere. FACs appear in regions where plasma sheet pressure and flux tube volume gradients are non-collinear. Faster tailward expansion of magnetotail dipolarization and subsequent slower inner plasma sheet restretching during substorm expansion and recovery phases cause faster poleward then slower equatorward movement of the substorm aurora. Anharmonic radial plasma oscillations build up displaced current filaments and are responsible for discrete longitudinal auroral arcs that move equatorward at a velocity of about 1km/s. This observed auroral activity appears sufficient to dissipate the released energy.
Project description:Accurate knowledge of Mercury's magnetospheric magnetic field is required to understand the sources of the planet's internal field. We present the first model of Mercury's magnetospheric magnetic field confined within a magnetopause shape derived from Magnetometer observations by the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging spacecraft. The field of internal origin is approximated by a dipole of magnitude 190?nT <i>R<sub>M</sub></i><sup>3</sup>, where <i>R<sub>M</sub></i> is Mercury's radius, offset northward by 479?km along the spin axis. External field sources include currents flowing on the magnetopause boundary and in the cross-tail current sheet. The cross-tail current is described by a disk-shaped current near the planet and a sheet current at larger (??5?<i>R<sub>M</sub></i> ) antisunward distances. The tail currents are constrained by minimizing the root-mean-square (RMS) residual between the model and the magnetic field observed within the magnetosphere. The magnetopause current contributions are derived by shielding the field of each module external to the magnetopause by minimizing the RMS normal component of the magnetic field at the magnetopause. The new model yields improvements over the previously developed paraboloid model in regions that are close to the magnetopause and the nightside magnetic equatorial plane. Magnetic field residuals remain that are distributed systematically over large areas and vary monotonically with magnetic activity. Further advances in empirical descriptions of Mercury's magnetospheric external field will need to account for the dependence of the tail and magnetopause currents on magnetic activity and additional sources within the magnetosphere associated with Birkeland currents and plasma distributions near the dayside magnetopause.
Project description:Saturn's magnetic field acts as an obstacle to solar wind flow, deflecting plasma around the planet and forming a cavity known as the magnetosphere. The magnetopause defines the boundary between the planetary and solar dominated regimes, and so is strongly influenced by the variable nature of pressure sources both outside and within. Following from Pilkington et al. (2014), crossings of the magnetopause are identified using 7 years of magnetic field and particle data from the Cassini spacecraft and providing unprecedented spatial coverage of the magnetopause boundary. These observations reveal a dynamical interaction where, in addition to the external influence of the solar wind dynamic pressure, internal drivers, and hot plasma dynamics in particular can take almost complete control of the system's dayside shape and size, essentially defying the solar wind conditions. The magnetopause can move by up to 10-15 planetary radii at constant solar wind dynamic pressure, corresponding to relatively "plasma-loaded" or "plasma-depleted" states, defined in terms of the internal suprathermal plasma pressure.
Project description:We report on the first analysis of magnetospheric cusp observations at Saturn by multiple in situ instruments onboard the Cassini spacecraft. Using this we infer the process of reconnection was occurring at Saturn's magnetopause. This agrees with remote observations that showed the associated auroral signatures of reconnection. Cassini crossed the northern cusp around noon local time along a poleward trajectory. The spacecraft observed ion energy-latitude dispersions-a characteristic signature of the terrestrial cusp. This ion dispersion is "stepped," which shows that the reconnection is pulsed. The ion energy-pitch angle dispersions suggest that the field-aligned distance from the cusp to the reconnection site varies between ?27 and 51 R S . An intensification of lower frequencies of the Saturn kilometric radiation emissions suggests the prior arrival of a solar wind shock front, compressing the magnetosphere and providing more favorable conditions for magnetopause reconnection.We observe evidence for reconnection in the cusp plasma at SaturnWe present evidence that the reconnection process can be pulsed at SaturnSaturn's cusp shows similar characteristics to the terrestrial cusp.
Project description:New Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) observations of small-scale (~7 ion inertial length radius) flux transfer events (FTEs) at the dayside magnetopause are reported. The 10?km MMS tetrahedron size enables their structure and properties to be calculated using a variety of multispacecraft techniques, allowing them to be identified as flux ropes, whose flux content is small (~22?kWb). The current density, calculated using plasma and magnetic field measurements independently, is found to be filamentary. Intercomparison of the plasma moments with electric and magnetic field measurements reveals structured non-frozen-in ion behavior. The data are further compared with a particle-in-cell simulation. It is concluded that these small-scale flux ropes, which are not seen to be growing, represent a distinct class of FTE which is generated on the magnetopause by secondary reconnection.
Project description:The abrupt boundary between a magnetosphere and the surrounding plasma, the magnetopause, has long been known to support surface waves. It was proposed that impulses acting on the boundary might lead to a trapping of these waves on the dayside by the ionosphere, resulting in a standing wave or eigenmode of the magnetopause surface. No direct observational evidence of this has been found to date and searches for indirect evidence have proved inconclusive, leading to speculation that this mechanism might not occur. By using fortuitous multipoint spacecraft observations during a rare isolated fast plasma jet impinging on the boundary, here we show that the resulting magnetopause motion and magnetospheric ultra-low frequency waves at well-defined frequencies are in agreement with and can only be explained by the magnetopause surface eigenmode. We therefore show through direct observations that this mechanism, which should impact upon the magnetospheric system globally, does in fact occur.
Project description:The Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission provides global energetic neutral atom (ENA) observations from the heliosphere and the Earth's magnetosphere, including spatial, temporal, and energy information. IBEX views the magnetosphere from the sides and almost always perpendicular to noon-midnight plane. We report the first ENA images of the energization process in the Earth's ion foreshock and magnetosheath regions. We show ENA flux and spectral images of the dayside magnetosphere with significant energization of ENA plasma sources (above ~2.7 keV) in the region magnetically connected to the Earth's bow shock (BS) in its quasi-parallel configuration of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). We also show that the ion energization increases gradually with decreasing IMF-BS angle, suggesting more efficient suprathermal ion acceleration deeper in the quasi-parallel foreshock.