Density variations in the Earth's magnetospheric cusps

Academic Article


  • AbstractSeven years of measurements from the Polar spacecraft are surveyed to monitor the variations of plasma density within the magnetospheric cusps. The spacecraft's orbital precession from 1998 through 2005 allows for coverage of both the northern and southern cusps from low altitude out to the magnetopause. In the mid‐ and high‐ altitude cusps, plasma density scales well with the solar wind density (ncusp/nsw∼0.8). This trend is fairly steady for radial distances greater then 4 RE. At low altitudes (r < 4RE) the density increases with decreasing altitude and even exceeds the solar wind density due to contributions from the ionosphere. The density of high charge state oxygen (O>+2) also displays a positive trend with solar wind density within the cusp. A multifluid simulation with the Block‐Adaptive‐Tree Solar Wind Roe‐Type Upwind Scheme MHD model was run to monitor the relative contributions of the ionosphere and solar wind plasma within the cusp. The simulation provides similar results to the statistical measurements from Polar and confirms the presence of ionospheric plasma at low altitudes.
  • Authors

  • Walsh, BM
  • Niehof, Jonathan
  • Collier, MR
  • Welling, DT
  • Sibeck, DG
  • Mozer, FS
  • Fritz, TA
  • Kuntz, KD
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • March 2016
  • Published In


  • Cusp
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 2131
  • End Page

  • 2142
  • Volume

  • 121
  • Issue

  • 3