Acceleration Processes in the Cusp -- Observations by the FAST Satellite
ABSTRACT The FAST spacecraft has encountered the Earth's cusp regions near its apogee of 4175 km on numerous occasions during its first two and half years of operations. The cusp encounters are identified by their signatures of keV dispersed ion injections of solar wind origin. The FAST instruments reveal a complex microphysics inherent to many, but not all, of the cusp regions encountered by the spacecraft, that often include upgoing ion beams within regions of downgoing electrons that may appear as series of inverted-V features with energies near a few hundred eV. In many instances, upgoing electron beams have also been observed. Intense (> 100 mV/m) spikey DC-coupled electric fields and plasma waves are common features of the cusp encounters which also provide evidence for the presence of such local acceleration processes. In some cases, the FAST data show clear modulation of the precipitating magnetosheath ions indicative that they are affected by local electric potentials, as evidenced by simultaneous electron acceleration within such intervals. Furthermore, the acceleration events are sometimes organized with an apparent cellular structure that suggest Alfven waves or other large scale phenomena are controlling the localized potentials. We examine several cusp encounters in detail in order to study the complex relation of the cusp energetic particle populations with the plasma waves and DC electric fields.