W. S. Kurth

University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, United States

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Publications (656)2209.64 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The periodicity of Saturn kilometric radiation (SKR) varies with time, and its two periods during the first 5 years of the Cassini mission have been attributed to SKR from the northern and southern hemisphere. After Sat-urn equinox in August 2009, there were long intervals of time (with similar northern and southern SKR periods and locked SKR phases. However, from March to August 2011 the SKR periods were split up again, and the phases were unlocked. In this time interval, the southern SKR pe-riod slowed down by ∼ 0.5 % on average, and there was a large jump back to a faster period in August 2011. The north-ern SKR period speeded up and coalesced again with the southern period in September 2011. We argue that this un-usual behavior could be related to the so-called Great White Spot (GWS), a giant thunderstorm that raged in Saturn's at-mosphere around that time. For several months in 2011, the visible head of the GWS had the same period of ∼ 10.69 h as the main southern SKR modulation signal. The GWS was most likely a source of intense gravity waves that may have caused a global change in Saturn's thermospheric winds via energy and momentum deposition. This would support the theory that Saturn's magnetospheric periodicities are driven by the upper atmosphere. Since the GWS with simultaneous SKR periodicity measurements have only been made once, it is difficult to prove a physical connection between these two phenomena, but we provide plausible mechanisms by which the GWS might modify the SKR periods. Keywords. Magnetospheric physics (planetary magneto-spheres) – meteorology and atmospheric dynamics (atmo-spheric electricity) – solar physics astrophysics and astron-omy (radio emissions)
    Annales Geophysicae 12/2014; 32:1463-1476. · 1.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We study the rapid outward extension of the electron radiation belt on a timescale of several hours during three events observed by RBSP and THEMIS satellites, and particularly quantify the contributions of substorm injections and chorus waves to the electron flux enhancement near the outer boundary of radiation belt. A comprehensive analysis including both observations and simulations is performed for the first event on 26 May 2013. The outer boundary of electron radiation belt moved from L = 5.5 to L > 6.07 over about 6 hours, with up to four orders of magnitude enhancement in the 30 keV-5 MeV electron fluxes at L = 6. The observations show that the substorm injection can cause 100% and 20% of the total subrelativistic (~0.1 MeV) and relativistic (2-5 MeV) electron flux enhancements within a few minutes. The data-driven simulation supports that the strong chorus waves can yield 60%-80% of the total energetic (0.2-5.0 MeV) electron flux enhancement within about 6 hours. Some simple analyses are further given for the other two events on 2 and 29 June 2013, in which the contributions of substorm injections and chorus waves are shown to be qualitatively comparable to those for the first event. These results clearly illustrate the respective importance of substorm injections and chorus waves for the evolution of radiation belt electrons at different energies on a relatively short timescale.
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics 12/2014; · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cassini plasma wave and particle observations are combined with magnetometer measurements to study Titan's induced magnetic tail. In this study, we report and analyze the plasma acceleration in Titan's induced magnetotail observed in flybys T17, T19 and T40. Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) observations show regions of cold plasma with electron densities between 0.1 and a few tens of electrons per cubic centimeter. The Cassini Plasma Spectrometer-Ion Mass Spectrometer (CAPS-IMS) measurements suggest that ionospheric plasma in this region is composed of ions with masses ranging from 15 to 17 amu and from 28 to 31 amu. From these measurements, we determine the bulk velocity of the plasma and the Alfvén velocity in Titan's tail region. Finally, a Walén test of such measurements suggest that the progressive acceleration of the ionospheric plasma shown by CAPS can be interpreted in terms of magnetic tension forces.
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics 11/2014; · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Near simultaneous periodic dispersive features of fast magnetosonic mode emissions are observed by both Van Allen Probes spacecraft while separated in magnetic local time by ~5 hours: Probe A at 15 and Probe B at 9–11 hours. Both spacecraft see similar frequency features, characterized by a periodic repetition at ~180 s. Each repetition is characterized by a rising frequency. Since no modulation is observed in the proton shell distribution, the plasma density, or in the background magnetic field at either spacecraft we conclude that these waves are not generated near the spacecraft but external to both spacecraft locations. Probe A while outside the plasmapause sees the start of each repetition ~40 s before probe B while deep inside the plasmasphere. We can qualitatively reproduce the dispersive features, but not the quantitative details. The cause for this phenomena remains to be identified.
    Geophysical Research Letters. 11/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: After 9 years in the Saturn system, the Cassini spacecraft finally observed Titan in the supersonic solar wind. These unique observations reveal that Titan interaction with the solar wind is in many ways similar to un-magnetized planets Mars and Venus in spite of the differences in the properties of the solar plasma in the outer solar system. In particular, Cassini detected a collisionless, supercritical bow shock and a well-defined induced magnetosphere filled with mass-loaded interplanetary magnetic field lines, which drape around Titan ionosphere. Although the flyby altitude may not allow the detection of an ionopause, Cassini reports enhancements of plasma density compatible with plasma clouds or streamers in the flanks of its induced magnetosphere or due to an expansion of the induced magnetosphere. Because of the upstream conditions, these observations are also relevant for unmagnetized bodies in the outer solar system such as Pluto, where kinetic processes are expected to dominate.
    10/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: During the recovery phase of the geomagnetic storm on 30-31 March 2013, Van Allen Probe A detected enhanced magnetosonic (MS) waves in a broad range of L =1.8-4.7 and MLT =17-22 h, with a frequency range ~10-100 Hz. In the meanwhile, distinct proton ring distributions with peaks at energies of ~10 keV, were also observed in L =3.2-4.6 and L =5.0-5.6. Using a subtracted bi-Maxwellian distribution to model the observed proton ring distribution, we perform three dimensional ray tracing to investigate the instability, propagation and spatial distribution of MS waves. Numerical results show that nightside MS waves are produced by proton ring distribution and grow rapidly from the source location L =5.6 to the location L =5.0, but remain nearly stable at locations L <5.0 Moreover, waves launched toward lower L-shells with different initial azimuthal angles propagate across different MLT regions with divergent paths at first, then gradually turn back toward higher L-shells and propagate across different MLT regions with convergent paths. The current results further reveal that MS waves are generated by a ring distribution of ~10 keV proton and proton ring in one region can contribute to the MS wave power in another region.
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics 10/2014; · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We use an E × B-driven plasmapause test particle (PTP) simulation to provide global contextual information for in situ measurements by the Van Allen Probes (RBSP) during 15–20 January 2013. During 120 h of simulation time beginning on 15 January, geomagnetic activity produced three plumes. The third and largest simulated plume formed during enhanced convection on 17 January, and survived as a rotating, wrapped, residual plume for tens of hours. To validate the simulation, we compare its output with RBSP data. Virtual RBSP satellites recorded 28 virtual plasmapause encounters during 15–19 January. For 26 of 28 (92%) virtual crossings, there were corresponding actual RBSP encounters with plasmapause density gradients. The mean difference in encounter time between model and data is 36 min. The mean model-data difference in radial location is 0:40±0:05 RE. The model-data agreement is better for strong convection than for quiet or weakly disturbed conditions. On 18 January, both RBSP spacecraft crossed a tenuous, detached plasma feature at approximately the same time and nightside location as a wrapped residual plume, predicted by the model to have formed 32 h earlier on 17 January. The agreement between simulation and data indicates that the model-provided global information is adequate to correctly interpret the RBSP density observations.
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics 09/2014; · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the first systematic investigation of the polar cap boundary in Saturn's high-latitude magnetosphere through a multi-instrument assessment of various Cassini in situ data sets gathered between 2006 and 2009. We identify 48 polar cap crossings where the polar cap boundary can be clearly observed in the step in upper cut-off of auroral hiss emissions from the plasma wave data, a sudden increase in electron density, an anisotropy of energetic electrons along the magnetic field, and an increase in incidence of higher energy electrons from the low energy electron spectrometer measurements as we move equatorward from the pole. We determine the average level of coincidence of the polar cap boundary identified in the various in situ data sets to be 0.34° ± 0.05° co-latitude. The average location of the boundary in the southern (northern) hemisphere is found to be at 15.6° (13.3°) co-latitude. In both hemispheres we identify a consistent equatorward offset between the poleward edge of the auroral upward-directed field-aligned current region of ~1.5-1.8° co-latitude to the corresponding polar cap boundary. We identify atypical observations in the boundary region, including observations of ~ hourly periodicities in the auroral hiss emissions close to the pole. We suggest that the position of the southern polar cap boundary is somewhat ordered by the southern planetary-period oscillation phase, but that it cannot account for the boundary's full latitudinal variability. We find no clear evidence of any ordering of the northern polar cap boundary location with the northern planetary-period magnetic field oscillation phase.
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics 09/2014; · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We investigate the excitation and propagation of equatorial magnetosonic waves observed by the Van Allen Probes, and describe evidence for a trapping mechanism for magnetosonic waves in the Earth's plasmasphere. Intense equatorial magnetosonic waves were observed inside the plasmasphere in association with a pronounced proton ring distribution, which provides free energy for wave excitation. Instability analysis along the inbound orbit demonstrates that broad-band magnetosonic waves can be excited over a localized spatial region near the plasmapause. The waves can subsequently propagate into the inner plasmasphere and remain trapped over a limited radial extent, consistent with the predictions of near-perpendicular propagation. By performing a similar analysis on another observed magnetosonic wave event, we demonstrate that magnetosonic waves can also be trapped within local density structures. We suggest that perpendicular wave propagation is important for explaining the presence of magnetosonic waves in the Earth's plasmasphere at locations away from the generation region.
    Geophysical Research Letters. 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: On September 26th, 2005, Cassini conducted its only close targeted flyby of Saturn's small, irregularly shaped moon Hyperion. Approximately 6 minutes before the closest approach, the Electron spectrometer (ELS), part of the Cassini Plasma Spectrometer (CAPS) detected a field-aligned electron population originating from the direction of the moon's surface. Plasma wave activity detected by the Radio and Plasma Wave (RPWS) instrument suggests electron beam activity. A dropout in energetic electrons was observed by both CAPS-ELS and the Magnetospheric Imaging Instrument Low Energy Magnetospheric Measurement System (MIMI-LEMMS), indicating that the moon and the spacecraft were magnetically connected when the field-aligned electron population was observed. We show that this constitutes a remote detection of a strongly negative (~ − 200 V) surface potential on Hyperion, consistent with the predicted surface potential in regions near the solar terminator.
    Geophysical Research Letters. 09/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Magnetospheric banded chorus is enhanced whistler waves with frequencies ωr < Ωe, where Ωe is the electron cyclotron frequency, and a characteristic spectral gap at ωr ≃ Ωe/2. This paper uses spacecraft observations and two-dimensional particle-in-cell (PIC) simulations in a magnetized, homogeneous, collisionless plasma to test the hypothesis that banded chorus is due to local linear growth of two branches of the whistler anisotropy instability excited by two distinct, anisotropic electron components of significantly different temperatures. The electron densities and temperatures are derived from HOPE instrument measurements on the Van Allen Probes A satellite during a banded chorus event on 1 November 2012. The observations are consistent with a three-component electron model consisting of a cold (a few tens of eV) population, a warm (a few hundred eV) anisotropic population, and a hot (a few keV) anisotropic population. The simulations use plasma and field parameters as measured from the satellite during this event except for two numbers: the anisotropies of the warm and the hot electron components are enhanced over the measured values in order to obtain relatively rapid instability growth. The simulations show that the warm component drives the quasi-electrostatic upper-band chorus, and that the hot component drives the electromagnetic lower-band chorus; the gap at ∼ Ωe/2 is a natural consequence of the growth of two whistler modes with different properties.
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics 09/2014; · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    C S Arridge, N Achilleos, J Agarwal, C B Agnor, R Ambrosi, N André, S V Badman, K Baines, D Banfield, M Barthélémy, [......], Sternovsky, M Tiscareno, G Tobie, F Tosi, M Trieloff, D Turrini, E P Turtle, S Vinatier, R Wilson, P Zarka
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    ABSTRACT: Giant planets helped to shape the conditions we see in the Solar System today and they account for more than 99% of the mass of the Sun’s planetary system. They can be subdivided into the Ice Giants (Uranus and Neptune) and the Gas Giants (Jupiter and Saturn), which differ from each other in a number of fundamental ways. Uranus, in particular is the most challenging to our understanding of planetary formation and evolution, with its large obliquity, low self-luminosity, highly asymmetrical internal field, and puzzling internal structure. Uranus also has a rich planetary system consisting of a system of inner natural satellites and complex ring system, five major natural icy satellites, a system of irregular moons with varied dynamical histories, and a highly asymmetrical magnetosphere. Voyager 2 is the only spacecraft to have explored Uranus, with a flyby in 1986, and no mission is currently planned to this enigmatic system. However, a mission to the uranian system would open a new window on the origin and evolution of the Solar System and would provide crucial information on a wide variety of physicochemical processes in our Solar System. These have clear implications for understanding exoplanetary systems. In this paper we describe the science case for an orbital mission to Uranus with an atmospheric entry probe to sample the composition and atmospheric physics in Uranus’ atmosphere. The characteristics of such an orbiter and a strawman scientific payload are described and we discuss the technical challenges for such a mission. This paper is based on a white paper submitted to the European Space Agency’s call for science themes for its large-class mission programme in 2013.
    Planetary and Space Science 08/2014; 104:122-140. · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: First nanodust detection by Cassini near 1 AUNanodust flux near 1 AU is determinedNanodust flux and variability are consistent with STEREO and modelsFirst nanodust detection by Cassini near 1 AUNanodust flux near 1 AU is determinedNanodust flux and variability are consistent with STEREO and models
    Geophysical Research Letters 08/2014; 41(15). · 3.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Wave normal distributions of lower-band whistler-mode waves observed outside the plasmapause exhibit two peaks; one near the parallel direction and the other at very oblique angles. We analyze a number of conjunction events between the Van Allen Probes near the equatorial plane and POES satellites at conjugate low altitudes, where lower-band whistler-mode wave amplitudes were inferred from the two-directional POES electron measurements over 30–100 keV, assuming that these waves were quasi-parallel. For conjunction events, the wave amplitudes inferred from the POES electron measurements were found to be overestimated as compared with the Van Allen Probes measurements primarily for oblique waves and quasi-parallel waves with small wave amplitudes (< ~20 pT) measured at low latitudes. This provides plausible experimental evidence of stronger pitch-angle scattering loss caused by oblique waves than by quasi-parallel waves with the same magnetic wave amplitudes, as predicted by numerical calculations.
    Geophysical Research Letters. 08/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The Cassini Radio and Plasma Wave Science (RPWS) instrument can detect dust particles when voltage pulses induced by the dust impacts are observed in the wideband receiver. The size of the voltage pulse is proportional to the mass of the impacting dust particle. For the first time, the dust impacts signals measured by dipole and monopole electric antennas are compared, from which the effective impact area of the spacecraft is estimated to be 4 m2. In the monopole mode, the polarity of the dust impact signal is determined by the spacecraft potential and the location of the impact (on the spacecraft body or the antenna), which can be used to statistically infer the charge state of the spacecraft. It is shown that the differential number density of the dust particles near Saturn can be characterized as a power law dn /dr ∝ rμ, where μ ~–4 and r is the particle size. No peak is observed in the size distribution, contrary to the narrow size distribution found by previous studies. The RPWS cumulative dust density is compared with the Cosmic Dust Analyzer (CDA) High Rate Detector (HRD) measurement. The differences between the two instruments are within the range of uncertainty estimated for RPWS measurement. The RPWS on-board dust recorder and counter data are used to map the dust density and spacecraft charging state within Saturn's magnetosphere.
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics 07/2014; · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nanodust grains of a few nanometer in size are produced near the Sun by collisional break-up of larger grains and picked-up by the magnetized solar wind. They have so far been detected at 1 AU by only the two STEREO spacecraft. Here we analyze the spectra measured by the radio and plasma wave instrument onboard Cassini during the cruise phase close to Earth orbit; they exhibit bursty signatures similar to those observed by the same instrument in association to nanodust stream impacts on Cassini near Jupiter. The observed wave level and spectral shape reveal impacts of nanoparticles at about 300 km/s, with an average flux compatible with that observed by the radio and plasma wave instrument onboard STEREO and with the interplanetary flux models.
    Geophysical Research Letters. 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Local acceleration driven by whistler-mode chorus waves is fundamentally important for accelerating seed electron populations to highly relativistic energies in the outer radiation belt. In this study, we quantitatively evaluate chorus-driven electron acceleration during the 17 March 2013 storm, when the Van Allen Probes observed very rapid electron acceleration up to several MeV within ~12 hours. A clear radial peak in electron phase space density (PSD) observed near L* ~4 indicates that an internal local acceleration process was operating. We construct the global distribution of chorus wave intensity from the low-altitude electron measurements made by multiple Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellites (POES) satellites over a broad region, which is ultimately used to simulate the radiation belt electron dynamics driven by chorus waves. Our simulation results show remarkable agreement in magnitude, timing, energy dependence, and pitch angle distribution with the observed electron PSD near its peak location. However, radial diffusion and other loss processes may be required to explain the differences between the observation and simulation at other locations away from the PSD peak. Our simulation results, together with previous studies, suggest that local acceleration by chorus waves is a robust and ubiquitous process and plays a critical role in accelerating injected seed electrons with convective energies (~100 keV) to highly relativistic energies (several MeV).
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics 06/2014; · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the wave observations, associated plasma measurements, and linear theory testing of electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) wave events observed by the Van Allen Probes on 28 April 2013. The wave events are detected in their generation regions as three individual events in two consecutive orbits of Van Allen Probe-A, while the other spacecraft, B, does not detect any significant EMIC wave activity during this period. Three overlapping H+ populations are observed around the plasmapause when the waves are excited. The difference between the observational EMIC wave growth parameter (Σh) and the theoretical EMIC instability parameter (Sh) is significantly raised, on average, to 0.10 ± 0.01, 0.15 ± 0.02, and 0.07 ± 0.02 during the three wave events, respectively. On Van Allen Probe-B, this difference never exceeds 0. Compared to linear theory (Σh > Sh), the waves are only excited for elevated thresholds.
    Geophysical Research Letters. 06/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Although magnetospheric chorus plays a significant role in the acceleration and loss of radiation belt electrons, its global evolution during any specific time period cannot be directly obtained by spacecraft measurements. Using the low-altitude NOAA POES electron data, we develop a novel physics-based methodology to infer the chorus wave intensity and construct its global distribution with a time resolution of less than an hour. We describe in detail how to apply the technique to satellite data by performing two representative analyses, i.e., (i) for one specific time point to visualize the estimation procedure and (ii) for a particular time period to validate the method and construct an illustrative global chorus wave model. We demonstrate that the spatio-temporal evolution of chorus intensity in the equatorial magnetosphere can be reasonably estimated from electron flux measurements made by multiple low-altitude POES satellites with a broad coverage of L-shell and MLT. Such a data-based, dynamic model of chorus waves can provide near real-time wave information on a global scale for any time period where POES electron data are available. A combination of the chorus wave spatio-temporal distribution acquired using this methodology and the direct space-borne wave measurements can be used to evaluate the quantitative scattering caused by resonant wave-particle interactions and thus model radiation belt electron variability.
    Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics 06/2014; · 3.44 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: It has been reported from Van Allen Probe observations that plasmaspheric hiss intensification in the outer plasmasphere, associated with a substorm injection on Sept 30 2012, occurred with a peak frequency near 100 Hz, well below the typical plasmaspheric hiss frequency range, extending down to ~20 Hz. We examine this event of unusually low frequency plasmaspheric hiss to understand its generation mechanism. Quantitative analysis is performed by simulating wave ray paths via the HOTRAY ray tracing code with measured plasma density and calculating ray path-integrated wave gain evaluated using the measured energetic electron distribution. We demonstrate that the growth rate due to substorm injected electrons is positive but rather weak, leading to small wave gain (~10 dB) during a single equatorial crossing. Propagation characteristics aided by the sharp density gradient associated with the plasmapause, however, can enable these low frequency waves to undergo cyclic ray paths, which return to the unstable region leading to repeated amplification to yield sufficient net wave gain (>40 dB) to allow waves to grow from the thermal noise.
    Geophysical Research Letters. 06/2014;

Publication Stats

7k Citations
2,209.64 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 1976–2014
    • University of Iowa
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Iowa City, Iowa, United States
  • 2011
    • Swedish Institute of Space Physics
      Kiruna, Norrbotten, Sweden
  • 2009–2011
    • Austrian Academy of Sciences
      • Institut für Weltraumforschung
      Vienna, Vienna, Austria
  • 2008
    • Imperial College London
      • Department of Physics
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2005–2007
    • NASA
      Washington, West Virginia, United States
  • 2006
    • IST Austria
      Klosterneuberg, Lower Austria, Austria
    • Los Alamos National Laboratory
      • Space Science and Applications Group
      Los Alamos, NM, United States
  • 2003
    • Hampton University
      Hampton, Virginia, United States
    • Middle Tennessee State University
      Murfreesboro, Tennessee, United States
  • 2001
    • Johns Hopkins University
      • Applied Physics Laboratory
      Baltimore, MD, United States