175 results found
Milan SE, Mooney MK, Bower GE, et al., 2023, The association of cusp‐Aligned arcs with plasma in the magnetotail implies a closed magnetosphere, JGR: Space Physics, Vol: 128, Pages: 1-17, ISSN: 2169-9402
We investigate a 15-day period in October 2011. Auroral observations by the Special Sensor Ultraviolet Spectrographic Imager instrument onboard the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program F16, F17, and F18 spacecraft indicate that the polar regions were covered by weak cusp-aligned arc (CAA) emissions whenever the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) clock angle was small, |θ| < 45°, which amounted to 30% of the time. Simultaneous observations of ions and electrons in the tail by the Cluster C4 and Geotail spacecraft showed that during these intervals dense (≈1 cm−3) plasma was observed, even as far from the equatorial plane of the tail as |ZGSE| ≈ 13 RE. The ions had a pitch angle distribution peaking parallel and antiparallel to the magnetic field and the electrons had pitch angles that peaked perpendicular to the field. We interpret the counter-streaming ions and double loss-cone electrons as evidence that the plasma was trapped on closed field lines, and acted as a source for the CAA emission across the polar regions. This suggests that the magnetosphere was almost entirely closed during these periods. We further argue that the closure occurred as a consequence of dual-lobe reconnection. Our finding forces a significant re-evaluation of the magnetic topology of the magnetosphere during periods of northwards IMF.
Cheng ZW, Shi JK, Torkar K, et al., 2021, Impact of the solar wind dynamic pressure on the field-aligned currents in the magnetotail: cluster observation, JGR: Space Physics, Vol: 126, Pages: 1-12, ISSN: 2169-9402
We statistically investigate the influence of the solar wind dynamic pressure (SW Pdyn) on the field-aligned currents (FACs) in the magnetotail with 1,492 FAC cases from July to October in 2001 and 2004, which covers 74 Cluster crossings of the plasma sheet boundary layer (PSBL) in both storm time and non-storm time. The FAC density in the magnetotail is derived from the magnetic field data with the four-point measurement of Cluster, and the SW Pdyn is taken from ACE data. The results indicate the FAC density becomes stronger with increasing SW Pdyn. The statistics show that the FAC occurrence increased monotonically with SW Pdyn in the three levels (Weak: SW Pdyn < 2 nPa; Medium: 2 nPa ≤ SW Pdyn ≤ 5 nPa; Strong: SW Pdyn > 5 nPa). The FAC density increased with increasing SW Pdyn, while its footprint (invariant latitude, ILAT) in the polar region decreased with increasing SW Pdyn. The response of the FAC to SW Pdyn in the magnetotail had a north-south hemispheric asymmetry. The FAC density had a better correlation with SW Pdyn in the Northern hemisphere, while the footprint had a better correlation with SW Pdyn in the Southern hemisphere. Possible underlying mechanisms for our results are analyzed and discussed. However, it requires more observations and simulation studies to find out the mechanism of north-south asymmetry.
Nakamura R, Baumjohann W, Nakamura TKM, et al., 2021, Thin current sheet behind the dipolarization front, JGR: Space Physics, Vol: 126, Pages: 1-19, ISSN: 2169-9402
We report a unique conjugate observation of fast flows and associated current sheet disturbances in the near-Earth magnetotail by MMS (Magnetospheric Multiscale) and Cluster preceding a positive bay onset of a small substorm at ∼14:10 UT, September 8, 2018. MMS and Cluster were located both at X ∼ −14 RE. A dipolarization front (DF) of a localized fast flow was detected by Cluster and MMS, separated in the dawn-dusk direction by ∼4 RE, almost simultaneously. Adiabatic electron acceleration signatures revealed from the comparison of the energy spectra confirm that both spacecraft encounter the same DF. We analyzed the change in the current sheet structure based on multi-scale multi-point data analysis. The current sheet thickened during the passage of DF, yet, temporally thinned subsequently associated with another flow enhancement centered more on the dawnward side of the initial flow. MMS and Cluster observed intense perpendicular and parallel current in the off-equatorial region mainly during this interval of the current sheet thinning. Maximum field-aligned currents both at MMS and Cluster are directed tailward. Detailed analysis of MMS data showed that the intense field-aligned currents consisted of multiple small-scale intense current layers accompanied by enhanced Hall-currents in the dawn-dusk flow-shear region. We suggest that the current sheet thinning is related to the flow bouncing process and/or to the expansion/activation of reconnection. Based on these mesoscale and small-scale multipoint observations, 3D evolution of the flow and current-sheet disturbances was inferred preceding the development of a substorm current wedge.
Galand M, Feldman PD, Bockelee-Morvan D, et al., 2021, Far-ultraviolet aurora identified at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (vol 4, pg 1084, 2020), NATURE ASTRONOMY, ISSN: 2397-3366
Heyner, Auster, Fornacon, et al., 2021, The BepiColombo Planetary Magnetometer MPO-MAG: what can we Learn from the Hermean magnetic field?, Space Science Reviews, Vol: 217, ISSN: 0038-6308
The magnetometer instrument MPO-MAG on-board the Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) of the BepiColombo mission en-route to Mercury is introduced, with its instrument design, its calibration and scientific targets. The instrument is comprised of two tri-axial fluxgate magnetometers mounted on a 2.9 m boom and are 0.8 m apart. They monitor the magnetic field with up to 128 Hz in a ±2048 nT range. The MPO will be injected into an initial 480×1500 km polar orbit (2.3 h orbital period). At Mercury, we will map the planetary magnetic field and determine the dynamo generated field and constrain the secular variation. In this paper, we also discuss the effect of the instrument calibration on the ability to improve the knowledge on the internal field. Furthermore, the study of induced magnetic fields and field-aligned currents will help to constrain the interior structure in concert with other geophysical instruments. The orbit is also well-suited to study dynamical phenomena at the Hermean magnetopause and magnetospheric cusps. Together with its sister instrument Mio-MGF on-board the second satellite of the BepiColombo mission, the magnetometers at Mercury will study the reaction of the highly dynamic magnetosphere to changes in the solar wind. In the extreme case, the solar wind might even collapse the entire dayside magnetosphere. During cruise, MPO-MAG will contribute to studies of solar wind turbulence and transient phenomena.
Nilsson H, Behar E, Burch JL, et al., 2021, Birth of a Magnetosphere, MAGNETOSPHERES IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM, Editors: Maggiolo, Andre, Hasegawa, Welling, Zhang, Paxton, Publisher: AMER GEOPHYSICAL UNION, Pages: 427-439, ISBN: 978-1-119-50752-9
Baumjohann W, Matsuoka A, Narita Y, et al., 2020, The BepiColombo-Mio magnetometer en route to Mercury, Space Science Reviews, Vol: 216, Pages: 1-33, ISSN: 0038-6308
The fluxgate magnetometer MGF on board the Mio spacecraft of the BepiColombo mission is introduced with its science targets, instrument design, calibration report, and scientific expectations. The MGF instrument consists of two tri-axial fluxgate magnetometers. Both sensors are mounted on a 4.8-m long mast to measure the magnetic field around Mercury at distances from near surface (initial peri-center altitude is 590 km) to 6 planetary radii (11640 km). The two sensors of MGF are operated in a fully redundant way, each with its own electronics, data processing and power supply units. The MGF instrument samples the magnetic field at a rate of up to 128 Hz to reveal rapidly-evolving magnetospheric dynamics, among them magnetic reconnection causing substorm-like disturbances, field-aligned currents, and ultra-low-frequency waves. The high time resolution of MGF is also helpful to study solar wind processes (through measurements of the interplanetary magnetic field) in the inner heliosphere. The MGF instrument firmly corroborates measurements of its companion, the MPO magnetometer, by performing multi-point observations to determine the planetary internal field at higher multi-pole orders and to separate temporal fluctuations from spatial variations.
The magnetometer instrument on the Solar Orbiter mission is designed to measure the magnetic field local to the spacecraft continuously for the entire mission duration. The need to characterise not only the background magnetic field but also its variations on scales from far above to well below the proton gyroscale result in challenging requirements on stability, precision, and noise, as well as magnetic and operational limitations on both the spacecraft and other instruments. The challenging vibration and thermal environment has led to significant development of the mechanical sensor design. The overall instrument design, performance, data products, and operational strategy are described.
Galand M, Feldman PD, Bockelee-Morvan D, et al., 2020, Far-ultraviolet aurora identified at comet 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Nature Astronomy, Vol: 4, Pages: 1084-1091, ISSN: 2397-3366
Having a nucleus darker than charcoal, comets are usually detected from Earth through the emissions from their coma. The coma is an envelope of gas that forms through the sublimation of ices from the nucleus as the comet gets closer to the Sun. In the far-ultraviolet portion of the spectrum, observations of comae have revealed the presence of atomic hydrogen and oxygen emissions. When observed over large spatial scales as seen from Earth, such emissions are dominated by resonance fluorescence pumped by solar radiation. Here, we analyse atomic emissions acquired close to the cometary nucleus by the Rosetta spacecraft and reveal their auroral nature. To identify their origin, we undertake a quantitative multi-instrument analysis of these emissions by combining coincident neutral gas, electron and far-ultraviolet observations. We establish that the atomic emissions detected from Rosetta around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at large heliocentric distances result from the dissociative excitation of cometary molecules by accelerated solar-wind electrons (and not by electrons produced from photo-ionization of cometary molecules). Like the discrete aurorae at Earth and Mars, this cometary aurora is driven by the interaction of the solar wind with the local environment. We also highlight how the oxygen line O I at wavelength 1,356 Å could be used as a tracer of solar-wind electron variability.
Zhang YC, Dai L, Rong ZJ, et al., 2020, Observation of the large‐amplitude and fast‐damped plasma sheet flapping triggered by reconnection‐induced ballooning instability, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 125, Pages: 1-11, ISSN: 2169-9380
In this study, we reported the large‐amplitude and fast‐damped flapping of the plasma sheet, which co‐occurred with magnetic reconnection. Data from the Double Star TC‐1 and Cluster satellites were used to analyze the features of the plasma sheet flapping 1.4 RE earthward of an ongoing magnetic reconnection event. The flapping was rapidly damped, and its amplitude decreased from the magnetohydrodynamics scale to the subion scale in 5 min. The variation in the flapping period (from 224 to 20 s) indicated that the source of the flapping had highly dynamic temporal characteristics. The plasma sheet flapping propagated duskward through a kink‐like wave with a velocity of 100 km/s, which was in agreement with the group velocity of the ballooning perturbation. A correlation analysis between the magnetic reconnection and plasma sheet flapping indicated that the magnetic reconnection likely facilitated the occurrence of ballooning instability by altering the state of plasma in the downstream plasma sheet. In this regard, the reconnection‐induced ballooning instability could be a potential mechanism to generate the flapping motion of the plasma sheet.
Milillo, Fujimoto, Murakami, et al., 2020, Investigating Mercury’s environment with the two-spacecraft BepiColombo mission, Space Science Reviews, Vol: 216, Pages: 1-78, ISSN: 0038-6308
The ESA-JAXA BepiColombo mission will provide simultaneous measurements from two spacecraft, offering an unprecedented opportunity to investigate magnetospheric and exospheric dynamics at Mercury as well as their interactions with the solar wind, radiation, and interplanetary dust. Many scientific instruments onboard the two spacecraft will be completely, or partially devoted to study the near-space environment of Mercury as well as the complex processes that govern it. Many issues remain unsolved even after the MESSENGER mission that ended in 2015. The specific orbits of the two spacecraft, MPO and Mio, and the comprehensive scientific payload allow a wider range of scientific questions to be addressed than those that could be achieved by the individual instruments acting alone, or by previous missions. These joint observations are of key importance because many phenomena in Mercury’s environment are highly temporally and spatially variable. Examples of possible coordinated observations are described in this article, analysing the required geometrical conditions, pointing, resolutions and operation timing of different BepiColombo instruments sensors.
Escoubet CP, Hwang K-J, Toledo-Redondo S, et al., 2020, Cluster and MMS simultaneous observations of magnetosheath high speed jets and their impact on the magnetopause, Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences, Vol: 6, Pages: 1-21, ISSN: 2296-987X
When the supersonic solar wind encounters the Earth's magnetosphere a shock, called bow shock, is formed and the plasma is decelerated and thermalized in the magnetosheath downstream from the shock. Sometimes, however, due to discontinuities in the solar wind, bow shock ripples or ionized dust clouds carried by the solar wind, high speed jets (HSJs) are observed in the magnetosheath. These HSJs have typically a Vx component larger than 200 km s−1 and their dynamic pressure can be a few times the solar wind dynamic pressure. They are typically observed downstream from the quasi-parallel bow shock and have a typical size around one Earth radius (RE) in XGSE. We use a conjunction of Cluster and MMS, crossing simultaneously the magnetopause, to study the characteristics of these HSJs and their impact on the magnetopause. Over 1 h 15 min interval in the magnetosheath, Cluster observed 21 HSJs. During the same period, MMS observed 12 HSJs and entered the magnetosphere several times. A jet was observed simultaneously by both MMS and Cluster and it is very likely that they were two distinct HSJs. This shows that HSJs are not localized into small regions but could span a region larger than 10 RE, especially when the quasi-parallel shock is covering the entire dayside magnetosphere under radial IMF. During this period, two and six magnetopause crossings were observed, respectively, on Cluster and MMS with a significant angle between the observation and the expected normal deduced from models. The angles observed range between from 11° up to 114°. One inbound magnetopause crossing observed by Cluster (magnetopause moving out at 142 km s−1) was observed simultaneous to an outbound magnetopause crossing observed by MMS (magnetopause moving in at −83 km s−1), showing that the magnetopause can have multiple local indentation places, most likely independent from each other. Under the continuous impacts of HSJs, the magnetopause is deformed significan
Shi J, Zhang Z, Torkar K, et al., 2019, South‐North Hemispheric Asymmetry of the FAE Distribution Around the Cusp Region: Cluster Observation, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 124, Pages: 5342-5352, ISSN: 2169-9380
Cluster data from late July to early October were used to study the distribution of field‐aligned electron (FAE) events around the two cusps. An FAE event was defined as electron parallel flux >3 × 108 (cm2 s)−1. The total number of FAE events around the two cusps was basically identical, but downward FAE events prevailed in the south and upward FAE events in the north. In the southern cusp, the peak of the FAE events distribution versus altitude was about 1.3 RE higher and the peak of the FAE events distribution versus invariant latitude (ILAT) was about 4° ILAT lower. Only the downward FAEs around the southern cusp had a second ILAT peak, which was located about 11° higher than the main peak. The normalized number of FAEs showed nearly the same features as the unnormalized number of the FAEs events. These results indicated a north‐south asymmetry of the FAE distribution around the two cusps. Some causes for the asymmetry are discussed, the main ones being the asymmetry of the magnetospheric configuration resulting from geomagnetic dipolar tilt and solar wind flows, the interplanetary magnetic field asymmetry related to the magnetosphere, and the difference of ionospheric conductivity in the two hemispheres. Various solar wind‐magnetosphere interaction processes, such as quasi‐viscous interaction and reconnection, are responsible for the asymmetry, too. The second distribution peak (at higher ILAT) of the downward FAE events around the southern cusp corresponded to high solar wind speed and may be associated with the northward interplanetary magnetic field Bz field‐aligned current at low altitude. This requires further studies, however.
Dimmock AP, Russell CT, Sagdeev RZ, et al., 2019, Direct evidence of nonstationary collisionless shocks in space plasmas, Science Advances, Vol: 5, ISSN: 2375-2548
Collisionless shocks are ubiquitous throughout the universe: around stars, supernova remnants, active galactic nuclei, binary systems, comets, and planets. Key information is carried by electromagnetic emissions from particles accelerated by high Mach number collisionless shocks. These shocks are intrinsically nonstationary, and the characteristic physical scales responsible for particle acceleration remain unknown. Quantifying these scales is crucial, as it affects the fundamental process of redistributing upstream plasma kinetic energy into other degrees of freedom-particularly electron thermalization. Direct in situ measurements of nonstationary shock dynamics have not been reported. Thus, the model that best describes this process has remained unknown. Here, we present direct evidence demonstrating that the transition to nonstationarity is associated with electron-scale field structures inside the shock ramp.
Snodgrass C, Jones GH, Boehnhardt H, et al., 2018, The Castalia mission to Main Belt Comet 133P/Elst-Pizarro, Advances in Space Research, Vol: 62, Pages: 1947-1976, ISSN: 0273-1177
We describe Castalia, a proposed mission to rendezvous with a Main Belt Comet (MBC), 133P/Elst-Pizarro. MBCs are a recently discovered population of apparently icy bodies within the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, which may represent the remnants of the population which supplied the early Earth with water. Castalia will perform the first exploration of this population by characterising 133P in detail, solving the puzzle of the MBC’s activity, and making the first in situ measurements of water in the asteroid belt. In many ways a successor to ESA’s highly successful Rosetta mission, Castalia will allow direct comparison between very different classes of comet, including measuring critical isotope ratios, plasma and dust properties. It will also feature the first radar system to visit a minor body, mapping the ice in the interior. Castalia was proposed, in slightly different versions, to the ESA M4 and M5 calls within the Cosmic Vision programme. We describe the science motivation for the mission, the measurements required to achieve the scientific goals, and the proposed instrument payload and spacecraft to achieve these.
Heritier K, Galand M, Henri P, et al., 2018, Plasma source and loss at comet 67P during the Rosetta mission, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol: 618, ISSN: 0004-6361
Context.The Rosetta spacecraft provided us with a unique opportunity to study comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from a closeperspective and over a two-year time period. Comet 67P is a weakly active comet. It was therefore unexpected to find an active anddynamic ionosphere where the cometary ions were largely dominant over the solar wind ions, even at large heliocentric distances.Aims.Our goal is to understand the different drivers of the cometary ionosphere and assess their variability over time and over thedifferent conditions encountered by the comet during the Rosetta mission.Methods.We used a multi-instrument data-based ionospheric model to compute the total ion number density at the position ofRosetta. In-situ measurements from the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis (ROSINA) and the Rosetta PlasmaConsortium (RPC)–Ion and Electron Sensor (IES), together with the RPC–LAngmuir Probe instrument (LAP) were used to computethe local ion total number density. The results are compared to the electron densities measured by RPC–Mutual Impedance Probe(MIP) and RPC–LAP.Results.We were able to disentangle the physical processes responsible for the formation of the cometary ions throughout thetwo-year escort phase and we evaluated their respective magnitudes. The main processes are photo-ionization and electron-impactionization. The latter is a significant source of ionization at large heliocentric distance (>2 au) and was predominant during the lastfour months of the mission. The ionosphere was occasionally subject to singular solar events, temporarily increasing the ambientenergetic electron population. Solar photons were the main ionizer near perihelion at 1.3 au from the Sun, during summer 2015.
Schillings A, Nilsson H, Slapak R, et al., 2018, O+ Escape During the Extreme Space Weather Event of 4-10 September 2017, Space Weather-the International Journal of Research and Applications, Vol: 16, Pages: 1363-1376, ISSN: 1539-4956
We have investigated the consequences of extreme space weather on ion outflow from the polar ionosphere by analyzing the solar storm that occurred early September 2017, causing a severe geomagnetic storm. Several X‐flares and coronal mass ejections were observed between 4 and 10 September. The first shock—likely associated with a coronal mass ejection—hit the Earth late on 6 September, produced a storm sudden commencement, and began the initial phase of the storm. It was followed by a second shock, approximately 24 hr later, that initiated the main phase and simultaneously the Dst index dropped to Dst = −142 nT and Kp index reached Kp = 8. Using COmposition DIstribution Function data on board Cluster satellite 4, we estimated the ionospheric O+ outflow before and after the second shock. We found an enhancement in the polar cap by a factor of 3 for an unusually high ionospheric O+ outflow (mapped to an ionospheric reference altitude) of 1013 m−2 s−1. We suggest that this high ionospheric O+ outflow is due to a preheating of the ionosphere by the multiple X‐flares. Finally, we briefly discuss the space weather consequences on the magnetosphere as a whole and the enhanced O+ outflow in connection with enhanced satellite drag.
Heritier KL, Altwegg K, Berthelier J-J, et al., 2018, On the origin of molecular oxygen in cometary comae, NATURE COMMUNICATIONS, Vol: 9, ISSN: 2041-1723
Cheng ZW, Shi JK, Zhang JC, et al., 2018, Influence of the IMF cone angle on invariant latitudes of polar region footprints of FACs in the magnetotail: cluster observation, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 123, Pages: 2588-2597, ISSN: 2169-9380
The influence of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) cone angle θ (the angle between the IMF direction and the Sun-Earth line) on the invariant latitudes of the footprints of the field-aligned currents (FACs) in the magnetotail has been investigated. We performed a statistical study of 542 FAC cases observed by the four Cluster spacecraft in the Northern Hemisphere. The results show that there are almost no FACs when the IMF cone angle is less than 10°, and there are indications of the FACs in the plasma sheet boundary layers being weak under the radial IMF conditions. The footprints of the large FAC ( > 10 nA/m 2 ) cases are within invariant latitudes < 71° and mainly within IMF cone angles θ > 60°, which implies that the footprints of the large FACs mainly expand equatorward with large IMF cone angle. The equatorward boundary of the FAC footprints in the polar region decreases with increasing IMF cone angle (and has a better correlation for northward IMF), which shows that the IMF cone angle plays an important controlling role in FAC distributions in the magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling system. There is almost no correlation between the poleward boundary and the IMF cone angle for both northward and southward IMF. This is because the poleward boundary movement is limited by an enhanced lobe magnetic flux. This is the first time a correlation between FAC footprints in the polar region and IMF cone angles has been determined.
Shi J, Zhang Z, Torkar K, et al., 2017, Distribution of Field-Aligned Electron Events in the High-Altitude Polar Region: Cluster Observations, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 122, Pages: 11245-11255, ISSN: 2169-9380
Field-aligned electrons (FAEs) are important for the energy transport in the solar wind-magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. However, the distribution of FAEs and the concerning physical mechanism in different altitudes of the polar region are still unclear. In this paper, data from the Cluster spacecraft were used to study the characteristics of FAEs in high-altitude polar region. We selected FAE events with a flux higher than 3 × 10 8 (cm 2 s) -1 for our analysis. Their distribution was double peaked around the auroral oval. The main peak occurred around the cusp region (magnetic local time (MLT) 0700-1500) which leaned to the dawnside. The other peak appeared in the evening sector with MLT 2100-2300 just before midnight. The durations of the FAE events covered a wide range from 4 to 475 s, with most of the FAE events lasting less than 40 s. The possible physical mechanisms are discussed, namely, that the downward FAEs may consist of decelerated solar wind and reflected up flowing ionospheric electrons in the potential drops, whereas the upward ones may be mirrored solar wind electrons and accelerated ionospheric up flowing electrons.
Eriksson AI, Engelhardt IAD, Andre M, et al., 2017, Cold and warm electrons at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol: 605, ISSN: 0004-6361
Context. Strong electron cooling on the neutral gas in cometary comae has been predicted for a long time, but actual measurements of low electron temperature are scarce.Aims. Our aim is to demonstrate the existence of cold electrons in the inner coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and show filamentation of this plasma.Methods. In situ measurements of plasma density, electron temperature and spacecraft potential were carried out by the Rosetta Langmuir probe instrument, LAP. We also performed analytical modelling of the expanding two-temperature electron gas.Results. LAP data acquired within a few hundred km from the nucleus are dominated by a warm component with electron temperature typically 5–10 eV at all heliocentric distances covered (1.25 to 3.83 AU). A cold component, with temperature no higher than about 0.1 eV, appears in the data as short (few to few tens of seconds) pulses of high probe current, indicating local enhancement of plasma density as well as a decrease in electron temperature. These pulses first appeared around 3 AU and were seen for longer periods close to perihelion. The general pattern of pulse appearance follows that of neutral gas and plasma density. We have not identified any periods with only cold electrons present. The electron flux to Rosetta was always dominated by higher energies, driving the spacecraft potential to order − 10 V.Conclusions. The warm (5–10 eV) electron population observed throughout the mission is interpreted as electrons retaining the energy they obtained when released in the ionisation process. The sometimes observed cold populations with electron temperatures below 0.1 eV verify collisional cooling in the coma. The cold electrons were only observed together with the warm population. The general appearance of the cold population appears to be consistent with a Haser-like model, implicitly supporting also the coupling of ions to the neutral gas. The expanding cold plasma is unstable, forming fil
Goldstein R, Burch JL, Mokashi P, et al., 2017, Two years of solar wind and pickup ion measurements at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol: 469, Pages: S262-S267, ISSN: 0035-8711
The Ion and Electron Sensor (IES) as well as other members of the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) on board the Rosetta spacecraft (S/C) measured the characteristics of the solar wind almost continuously since its arrival at 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (CG) in 2014 August. An important process at a comet is the so-called pickup process in which a newly ionized atom or molecule begins gyrating about the interplanetary magnetic field, is accelerated in the process and is carried along with the solar wind. Within a month after comet arrival, while Rosetta was <100 km from CG, we began to observe low-energy (<20 eV) positive ions. We believe that these are newly formed from cometary neutrals near Rosetta and attracted to the negative S/C potential. These ions were in the early phase of pickup and had not yet reached the energy they would after at least one full gyration about the magnetic field. As CG increased its activity, the flux and energy of the measured pickup ions increased intermittently while the solar wind appeared intermittently as well. By about 2015 end of April, the solar wind had become very faint until it eventually disappeared from the IES field of view. We then began to see ions at the highest energy levels of IES, >10 keV for a few days and then intermittently through the remainder of the mission, but lower energy (a few keV) pickup ions were also observed. As of 2016 early February, the solar wind reappeared more consistently. We believe that the disappearance of the solar wind in the IES field of view is the result of interaction with the pickup ions and the eventual formation of a cavity that excluded the solar wind.
Henri P, Vallières X, Hajra R, et al., 2017, Diamagnetic region(s): structure of the unmagnetized plasma around Comet 67P/CG, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol: 469, Pages: S372-S379, ISSN: 0035-8711
The ESA’s comet chaser Rosetta has monitored the evolution of the ionized atmosphere of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P/CG) and its interaction with the solar wind, during more than 2 yr. Around perihelion, while the cometary outgassing rate was highest, Rosetta crossed hundreds of unmagnetized regions, but did not seem to have crossed a large-scale diamagnetic cavity as anticipated. Using in situ Rosetta observations, we characterize the structure of the unmagnetized plasma found around comet 67P/CG. Plasma density measurements from RPC-MIP are analysed in the unmagnetized regions identified with RPC-MAG. The plasma observations are discussed in the context of the cometary escaping neutral atmosphere, observed by ROSINA/COPS. The plasma density in the different diamagnetic regions crossed by Rosetta ranges from ∼100 to ∼1500 cm−3. They exhibit a remarkably systematic behaviour that essentially depends on the comet activity and the cometary ionosphere expansion. An effective total ionization frequency is obtained from in situ observations during the high outgassing activity phase of comet 67P/CG. Although several diamagnetic regions have been crossed over a large range of distances to the comet nucleus (from 50 to 400 km) and to the Sun (1.25–2.4 au), in situ observations give strong evidence for a single diamagnetic region, located close to the electron exobase. Moreover, the observations are consistent with an unstable contact surface that can locally extend up to about 10 times the electron exobase.
Heritier KL, Henri P, Vallières X, et al., 2017, Vertical structure of the near-surface expanding ionosphere of comet 67P probed by Rosetta, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol: 469, Pages: S118-S129, ISSN: 0035-8711
The plasma environment has been measured for the first time near the surface of a comet. This unique data set has been acquired at 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko during ESA/Rosetta spacecraft's final descent on 2016 September 30. The heliocentric distance was 3.8 au and the comet was weakly outgassing. Electron density was continuously measured with Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC)–Mutual Impedance Probe (MIP) and RPC–LAngmuir Probe (LAP) during the descent from a cometocentric distance of 20 km down to the surface. Data set from both instruments have been cross-calibrated for redundancy and accuracy. To analyse this data set, we have developed a model driven by Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis–COmetary Pressure Sensor total neutral density. The two ionization sources considered are solar extreme ultraviolet radiation and energetic electrons. The latter are estimated from the RPC–Ion and Electron Sensor (IES) and corrected for the spacecraft potential probed by RPC–LAP. We have compared the results of the model to the electron densities measured by RPC–MIP and RPC–LAP at the location of the spacecraft. We find good agreement between observed and modelled electron densities. The energetic electrons have access to the surface of the nucleus and contribute as the main ionization source. As predicted, the measurements exhibit a peak in the ionospheric density close to the surface. The location and magnitude of the peak are estimated analytically. The measured ionospheric densities cannot be explained with a constant outflow velocity model. The use of a neutral model with an expanding outflow is critical to explain the plasma observations.
Volwerk M, Jones GH, Broiles T, et al., 2017, Current sheets in comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's coma, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol: 122, Pages: 3308-3321, ISSN: 2169-9402
The Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) data are used to investigate the presence of current sheets in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The interaction of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) transported by the solar wind toward the outgassing comet consists amongst others of mass loading and field line draping near the nucleus. The draped field lines lead to so-called nested draping because of the constantly changing direction of the IMF. It is shown that the draping pattern is strongly variable over the period of one month. Nested draping results in neighbouring regions with oppositely directed magnetic fields, which are separated by current sheets. Selected events on 5 and 6 June 2015 are studied, which show that there are strong rotations of the magnetic field with associated current sheets that have strengths from several tens up to hundreds of nA/m2. Not all discussed current sheets show the characteristic peak in plasma density at the centre of the sheet, which might be related to the presence of a guide field. There is no evidence for different kinds of plasmas on either side of a current sheet, and no strongly accelerated ions have been observed which could have been an indication of magnetic reconnection in the current sheets.
Goetz C, Koenders C, Hansen KC, et al., 2016, Structure and evolution of the diamagnetic cavity at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol: 462, Pages: S459-S467, ISSN: 0035-8711
The long duration of the Rosetta mission allows us to study the evolution of the diamagnetic cavity at comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko in detail. From 2015 April to 2016 February 665 intervals could be identified where Rosetta was located in a zero-magnetic-field region. We study the temporal and spatial distribution of this cavity and its boundary and conclude that the cavity properties depend on the long-term trend of the outgassing rate, but do not respond to transient events at the spacecraft location, such as outbursts or high neutral densities. Using an empirical model of the outgassing rate, we find a functional relationship between the outgassing rate and the distance of the cavity to the nucleus. There is also no indication that this unexpectedly large distance is related to unusual solar wind conditions. Because the deduced shape of the cavity boundary is roughly elliptical on small scales and the distances of the boundary from the nucleus are much larger than expected we conclude that the events observed by Rosetta are due to a moving instability of the cavity boundary itself.
Galand M, Héritier KL, Odelstad E, et al., 2016, Ionospheric plasma of comet 67P probed by Rosetta at 3 AU from the Sun, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol: 462, Pages: S331-S351, ISSN: 1365-2966
We propose to identify the main sources of ionization of the plasma in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko at different locations in the coma and to quantify their relative importance, for the first time, for close cometocentric distances (<20 km) and large heliocentric distances (>3 au). The ionospheric model proposed is used as an organizing element of a multi-instrument data set from the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) plasma and particle sensors, from the Rosetta Orbiter Spectrometer for Ion and Neutral Analysis and from the Microwave Instrument on the Rosetta Orbiter, all on board the ESA/Rosetta spacecraft. The calculated ionospheric density driven by Rosetta observations is compared to the RPC-Langmuir Probe and RPC-Mutual Impedance Probe electron density. The main cometary plasma sources identified are photoionization of solar extreme ultraviolet (EUV) radiation and energetic electron-impact ionization. Over the northern, summer hemisphere, the solar EUV radiation is found to drive the electron density – with occasional periods when energetic electrons are also significant. Over the southern, winter hemisphere, photoionization alone cannot explain the observed electron density, which reaches sometimes higher values than over the summer hemisphere; electron-impact ionization has to be taken into account. The bulk of the electron population is warm with temperature of the order of 7–10 eV. For increased neutral densities, we show evidence of partial energy degradation of the hot electron energy tail and cooling of the full electron population
We present Rosetta observations from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko during the impactof a coronal mass ejection (CME). The CME impacted on 5-6 Oct 2015, when Rosetta wasabout 800 km from the comet nucleus, and 1.4 AU from the Sun. Upon impact, the plasmaenvironment is compressed to the level that solar wind ions, not seen a few days earlier whenat 1500 km, now reach Rosetta. In response to the compression, the flux of suprathermalelectrons increases by a factor of 5-10 and the background magnetic field strength increasesby a factor of ∼2.5. The plasma density increases by a factor of 10 and reaches 600 cm−3,due to increased particle impact ionisation, charge exchange and the adiabatic compressionof the plasma environment. We also observe unprecedentedly large magnetic field spikes at800 km, reaching above 200 nT, which are interpreted as magnetic flux ropes. We suggestthat these could possibly be formed by magnetic reconnection processes in the coma as themagnetic field across the CME changes polarity, or as a consequence of strong shears causingKelvin-Helmholtz instabilities in the plasma flow. Due to the limited orbit of Rosetta, we arenot able to observe if a tail disconnection occurs during the CME impact, which could beexpected based on previous remote observations of other CME-comet interactions.
Mandt KE, Eriksson A, Edberg NJT, et al., 2016, RPC observation of the development and evolution of plasma interaction boundaries at 67P/ChuryumovGerasimenko, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol: 462, Pages: S9-S22, ISSN: 1365-2966
One of the primary objectives of the Rosetta Plasma Consortium, a suite of five plasma instruments on-board the Rosetta spacecraft, is to observe the formation and evolution of plasma interaction regions at the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P/CG). Observations made between 2015 April and 2016 February show that solar wind–cometary plasma interaction boundaries and regions formed around 2015 mid-April and lasted through early 2016 January. At least two regions were observed, separated by an ion-neutral collisionopause boundary. The inner region was located on the nucleus side of the boundary and was characterized by low-energy water-group ions, reduced magnetic field pileup and enhanced electron densities. The outer region was located outside of the boundary and was characterized by reduced electron densities, water-group ions that are accelerated to energies above 100 eV and enhanced magnetic field pileup compared to the inner region. The boundary discussed here is outside of the diamagnetic cavity and shows characteristics similar to observations made on-board the Giotto spacecraft in the ion pileup region at 1P/Halley. We find that the boundary is likely to be related to ion-neutral collisions and that its location is influenced by variability in the neutral density and the solar wind dynamic pressure.
Richter I, Auster H-U, Berghofer G, et al., 2016, Two-point observations of low-frequency waves at 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko during descent of PHILAE: Comparison of RPCMAG and ROMAP, Annales Geophysicae, Vol: 34, Pages: 609-622, ISSN: 1432-0576
The European Space Agency’s spacecraft ROSETTA has reached its final destination,comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Whilst orbiting in the close vicinity of the nucleus theROSETTA magnetometers detected a new type of low-frequency waves possibly generated by across-field current instability due to freshly ionized cometary water group particles. During separation, descent and landing of the lander PHILAE on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, weused the unique opportunity to perform combined measurements with the magnetometers onboardROSETTA (RPCMAG) and its lander PHILAE (ROMAP). New details about the spatial distributionof wave properties along the connection line of the ROSETTA orbiter and the lander PHILAEare revealed. An estimation of the observed amplitude, phase and wavelength distribution will be presented as well as the measured dispersion relation, characterizing the new type of low-frequencywaves. The propagation direction and polarization features will be discussed using the results of aminimum variance analysis. Thoughts about the size of the wave source will complete our study
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