Solar Wind Ion Entry Into the Magnetosphere During Northward IMF.
ABSTRACT: Extended periods of northward interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) lead to the formation of a cold, dense plasma sheet due to the entry of solar wind plasma into the magnetosphere. Identifying the paths that the solar wind takes to enter the magnetosphere, and their relative importance has remained elusive. Any theoretical model of entry must satisfy observational constraints, such as the overall entry rate and the dawn-dusk asymmetry observed in the cold, dense plasma sheet. We model, using a combination of global magnetohydrodynamic and test particle simulations, solar wind ion entry into the magnetosphere during northward IMF and compare entry facilitated by the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability to cusp reconnection. For Kelvin-Helmholtz entry we reproduce transport rates inferred from observation and kinetic modeling and find that intravortex reconnection creates buoyant flux tubes, which provides, through interchange instability, a mechanism of filling the central plasma sheet with cold magnetosheath plasma. For cusp entry we show that an intrinsic dawn-dusk asymmetry is created during entry that is the result of alignment of the westward ion drift with the dawnward electric field typically observed during northward IMF. We show that both entry mechanisms provide comparable mass but affect entering plasma differently. The flank-entering plasma is cold and dawn-dusk symmetric, whereas the cusp-entering plasma is accelerated and preferentially deflected toward dawn. The combined effect of these entry mechanisms results in a plasma sheet population that exhibits dawn-dusk asymmetry in the manner that is seen in nature: a two-component (hot and cold) dusk flank and hotter, broadly peaked dawn population.
Project description:A distinct class of aurora, called transpolar auroral arc (TPA) (in some cases called "theta" aurora), appears in the extremely high-latitude ionosphere of the Earth when interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) is northward. The formation and evolution of TPA offers clues about processes transferring energy and momentum from the solar wind to the magnetosphere and ionosphere during a northward IMF. However, their formation mechanisms remain poorly understood and controversial. We report a mechanism identified from multiple-instrument observations of unusually bright, multiple TPAs and simulations from a high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) global MagnetoHydroDynamics (MHD) model. The observations and simulations show an excellent agreement and reveal that these multiple TPAs are generated by precipitating energetic magnetospheric electrons within field-aligned current (FAC) sheets. These FAC sheets are generated by multiple-flow shear sheets in both the magnetospheric boundary produced by Kelvin-Helmholtz instability between supersonic solar wind flow and magnetosphere plasma, and the plasma sheet generated by the interactions between the enhanced earthward plasma flows from the distant tail (less than -100 RE) and the enhanced tailward flows from the near tail (about -20 RE). The study offers insight into the complex solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling processes under a northward IMF condition, and it challenges existing paradigms of the dynamics of the Earth's magnetosphere.
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:Energy circulation in geospace lies at the heart of space weather research. In the inner magnetosphere, the steep plasmapause boundary separates the cold dense plasmasphere, which corotates with the planet, from the hot ring current/plasma sheet outside. Theoretical studies suggested that plasmapause surface waves related to the sharp inhomogeneity exist and act as a source of geomagnetic pulsations, but direct evidence of the waves and their role in magnetospheric dynamics have not yet been detected. Here, we show direct observations of a plasmapause surface wave and its impacts during a geomagnetic storm using multi-satellite and ground-based measurements. The wave oscillates the plasmapause in the afternoon-dusk sector, triggers sawtooth auroral displays, and drives outward-propagating ultra-low frequency waves. We also show that the surface-wave-driven sawtooth auroras occurred in more than 90% of geomagnetic storms during 2014-2018, indicating that they are a systematic and crucial process in driving space energy dissipation.
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.
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:The circadian clock controls 24-h rhythms in many biological processes, allowing appropriate timing of biological rhythms relative to dawn and dusk. Known clock circuits include multiple, interlocked feedback loops. Theory suggested that multiple loops contribute the flexibility for molecular rhythms to track multiple phases of the external cycle. Clear dawn- and dusk-tracking rhythms illustrate the flexibility of timing in Ipomoea nil. Molecular clock components in Arabidopsis thaliana showed complex, photoperiod-dependent regulation, which was analysed by comparison with three contrasting models. A simple, quantitative measure, Dusk Sensitivity, was introduced to compare the behaviour of clock models with varying loop complexity. Evening-expressed clock genes showed photoperiod-dependent dusk sensitivity, as predicted by the three-loop model, whereas the one- and two-loop models tracked dawn and dusk, respectively. Output genes for starch degradation achieved dusk-tracking expression through light regulation, rather than a dusk-tracking rhythm. Model analysis predicted which biochemical processes could be manipulated to extend dusk tracking. Our results reveal how an operating principle of biological regulators applies specifically to the plant circadian clock.
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:The Lunar Exploration Neutron Detector (LEND), on the polar-orbiting Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft, has detected suppression in the Moon's naturally-occurring epithermal neutron leakage flux that is consistent with the presence of diurnally varying quantities of hydrogen in the regolith near the equator. Peak hydrogen concentration (neutron flux suppression) is on the dayside of the dawn terminator and diminishes through the dawn-to-noon sector. The minimum concentration of hydrogen is in the late afternoon and dusk sector. The chemical form of hydrogen is not determinable from these measurements, but other remote sensing methods and anticipated elemental availability suggest water molecules or hydroxyl ions. Signal-to-noise ratio at maximum contrast is 5.6σ in each of two detector systems. Volatiles are deduced to collect in or on the cold nightside surface and distill out of the regolith after dawn as rotation exposes the surface to sunlight. Liberated volatiles migrate away from the warm subsolar region toward the nearby cold nightside surface beyond the terminator, resulting in maximum concentration at the dawn terminator. The peak concentration within the upper ~1 m of regolith is estimated to be 0.0125 ± 0.0022 weight-percent water-equivalent hydrogen (wt% WEH) at dawn, yielding an accumulation of 190 ± 30 ml recoverable water per square meter of regolith at each dawn. Volatile transport over the lunar surface in opposition to the Moon's rotation exposes molecules to solar ultraviolet radiation. The short lifetime against photolysis and permanent loss of hydrogen from the Moon requires a resupply rate that greatly exceeds anticipated delivery of hydrogen by solar wind implantation or by meteoroid impacts, suggesting that the surface inventory must be continually resupplied by release from a deep volatile inventory in the Moon. The natural distillation of water from the regolith by sunlight and its capture on the cold night surface may provide energy-efficient access to volatiles for in situ resource utilization (ISRU) by direct capture before volatiles can enter the surface, eliminating the need to actively mine regolith for volatile resource recovery.
Project description:The Ultraviolet and Visible Spectrometer (UVVS) component of the Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer (MASCS) on the MESSENGER spacecraft characterized the local-time distribution of the sodium exosphere over the course of its orbital mission. The observations show that the sodium exosphere is enhanced above Mercury's cold-pole longitudes. Based on previously published sodium exosphere models we infer that these regions act as nightside surface reservoirs, temporary sinks to the exosphere that collect sodium atoms transported anti-sunward. The reservoirs are revealed as exospheric enhancements when they are exposed to sunlight. As in the models the reservoir is depleted as the cold poles rotate from dawn to dusk, but unlike the models the depletion is only partial. The persistence of the reservoir means that it could, over the course of geologically long periods of time, contribute to an increase in the bulk concentration of sodium near the cold-pole longitudes.
Project description:The circadian clock is synchronized by the day-night cycle to allow plants to anticipate daily environmental changes and to recognize annual changes in day length enabling seasonal flowering. This clock system has been extensively studied in Arabidopsis thaliana and was found to be reset by the dark to light transition at dawn. By contrast, studies on photoperiodic flowering of Pharbitis nil revealed the presence of a clock system reset by the transition from light to dark at dusk to measure the duration of the night. However, a Pharbitis photosynthetic gene was also shown to be insensitive to this dusk transition and to be set by dawn. Thus Pharbitis appeared to have two clock systems, one set by dusk that controls photoperiodic flowering and a second controlling photosynthetic gene expression similar to that of Arabidopsis. Here, we show that circadian mRNA expression of Pharbitis homologs of a series of Arabidopsis clock or clock-controlled genes are insensitive to the dusk transition. These data further define the presence in Pharbitis of a clock system that is analogous to the Arabidopsis system, which co-exists and functions with the dusk-set system dedicated to the control of photoperiodic flowering.