Harlan E. Spence earned his BA in Astronomy and Physics at Boston Univ. and his MS/PhD in Geophysics and Space Physics at UCLA, then worked at The Aerospace Corporation. He returned to BU as a faculty member in the Astronomy Dept.. In 2010, Spence joined UNH as Director of EOS and Professor of Physics. His research Interests include: theoretical and experimental space plasma physics; cosmic rays and radiation belt processes; heliospheric, planetary magnetospheric, lunar, and auroral physics.
Research Items (559)
This paper briefly reviews a number of fundamental measurements that need to be made in order to characterize turbulence in space plasmas such as the solar wind. It has long been known that many of these quantities require simultaneous multipoint measurements to attain a proper characterization that would reveal the fundamental physics of plasma turbulence. The solar wind is an ideal plasma for such an investigation, and it now appears to be technologically feasible to carry out such an investigation, following the pioneering Cluster and MMS missions. Quantities that need to be measured using multipoint measurements include the two-point, two-time second correlation function of velocity, magnetic field and density, and higher order statistical objects such as third and fourth order structure functions. Some details of these requirements are given here, with a eye towards achieving closure on fundamental questions regarding the cascade rate, spectral anisotropy, characteristic coherent structures, intermittency, and dissipation mechanisms that describe plasma turbuelence, as well as its variability with plasma parameters in the solar wind. The motivation for this discussion is the current planning for a proposed Helioswarm mission that would be designed to make these measurements,leading to breakthrough understanding of the physics of space and astrophysical turbulence.
A constellation of satellites taking simultaneous, distributed measurements throughout the magnetosphere would answer long standing questions associated with magnetospheric response, dynamics, and coupling. Understanding how energy enters, propagates through, and dissipates within our magnetosphere is a major goal of every spacecraft mission. However, single and small clusters of spacecraft are capable of examining only localized aspects of the global magnetosphere. Statistical studies can provide a broader understanding of global dynamics but do not generally represent any one instantaneous state. Constellation missions provide a means of examining the macroscopic states of the fields and plasma by monitoring the response, dynamics, and coupling of the magnetosphere to external and internal structures and processes. This white paper poses a selection of questions that only constellations of satellites can resolve, describes the hurdles facing constellation missions, and outlines a potential plan for implementing such a mission. Lastly, we make a recommendation for the Decadal Assessment.
A multi-institutional, multi-national science team will soon submit a NASA proposal to build a constellation of spacecraft to fly into the near-Earth solar wind in a swarm spanning a multitude of scales in order to obtain critically needed measurements that will reveal the underlying dynamics of magnetized turbulence. This white paper, submitted to the Plasma 2020 Decadal Survey Committee, provides a brief overview of turbulent systems that constitute an area of compelling plasma physics research, including why this mission is needed, and how this mission will achieve the goal of revealing how energy is transferred across scales and boundaries in plasmas throughout the universe.
This white paper submitted for 2020 Decadal Assessment of Plasma Science concerns the importance of multi-spacecraft missions to address fundamental questions concerning plasma turbulence. Plasma turbulence is ubiquitous in the universe, and it is responsible for the transport of mass, momentum, and energy in such diverse systems as the solar corona and wind, accretion discs, planet formation, and laboratory fusion devices. Turbulence is an inherently multi-scale and multi-process phenomenon, coupling the largest scales of a system to sub-electron scales via a cascade of energy, while simultaneously generating reconnecting current layers, shocks, and a myriad of instabilities and waves. The solar wind is humankind's best resource for studying the naturally occurring turbulent plasmas that permeate the universe. Since launching our first major scientific spacecraft mission, Explorer 1, in 1958, we have made significant progress characterizing solar wind turbulence. Yet, due to the severe limitations imposed by single point measurements, we are unable to characterize sufficiently the spatial and temporal properties of the solar wind, leaving many fundamental questions about plasma turbulence unanswered. Therefore, the time has now come wherein making significant additional progress to determine the dynamical nature of solar wind turbulence requires multi-spacecraft missions spanning a wide range of scales simultaneously. A dedicated multi-spacecraft mission concurrently covering a wide range of scales in the solar wind would not only allow us to directly determine the spatial and temporal structure of plasma turbulence, but it would also mitigate the limitations that current multi-spacecraft missions face, such as non-ideal orbits for observing solar wind turbulence. Some of the fundamentally important questions that can only be addressed by in situ multipoint measurements are discussed.
Energetic particle injections are characterized by dispersive or dispersionless increases in observed particle flux. Observations from National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission have revealed transient events displaying injection-like dispersed reductions in energetic (~30–600 keV) electron flux in the dawnside magnetosphere. Although initially believed to be the result of magnetopause losses, drift tracing of the electrons suggests a source for these drift-dispersed flux dropouts in the near-to-postmidnight magnetotail suggesting that they are likely related to similar signatures previously observed at geosynchronous orbit. We suggest that the dozen examples presented are signatures of “flux-reduced injections” resulting from earthward injection in the presence of a negative phase space density radial gradient as supported by observed phase space density versus L-shell profiles. These events also display varying pitch angle responses inconsistent with a singular loss mechanism, leading to the suggestion that they result from preconditioning of the magnetotail source region prior to the injection.
- Feb 2019
In deep space, personnel and equipment are exposed to the space radiation environment in the form of energetic particles, specifically galactic cosmic rays and sporadic solar energetic particle events. Radiation fields resulting from these particles are modified by shielding, but most radiation measurements in deep space have been made with detectors that were unshielded or very lightly shielded. In contrast, the space radiation environment on the International Space Station (ISS) is more complicated, with time-dependent modification of the incident flux by the geomagnetic field and complex bulk shielding distributions; measured particle spectra inside the ISS are affected by both types of shielding. The geomagnetic field is also responsible for the existence of the South Atlantic Anomaly, a region of trapped energetic protons and electrons, and hence enhanced radiation dose, through which the ISS travels several times per day on average. Here our primary aim is to compare charged-particle spectra at high linear energy transfer obtained by the Anomalous Long-Term Effects in Astronauts instrument on ISS during high-latitude portions of the orbit to data acquired at the same time by the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation and Radiation Assessment Detector instruments, both in deep space. The hypothesis being tested is that these spectra are the same, modulo shielding differences, since the effects of the geomagnetic field are expected to be minimal at high latitudes.
We study electron behavior in the outer radiation belts during the 16 July 2017 storm sudden commencement (SSC), in which prompt intensification of ultrarelativistic electron fluxes was observed at around L = 4.8 by Van Allen Probe B immediately after an interplanetary shock. The electron fluxes in multiple energy channels show clear oscillations in the Pc5 frequency range, although the oscillation characteristics are quite different in different energy channels. At energies above ∼1 MeV, the oscillation periods were very close to the electron drift period, which resembles an energy spectrogram evolution expected for an energetic particle injection event and its drift echoes. At lower energies, however, the oscillation periods hardly depended on the energy: They were very close to the ultralow frequency (ULF) wave period derived from electric field measurements (about 250 s according to wavelet analysis). These complex signatures are consistent with the picture of drift resonance between electrons and short-lived ULF waves with low azimuthal wave numbers. Good agreement between the observations and numerical simulations confirms that shock-induced global-scale ULF waves can efficiently accelerate outer belt ultrarelativistic electrons up to 3.4 MeV over a time scale shorter than 1 hr.
Whistler mode wave properties inside the plasmasphere and plumes are systematically investigated using 5-year data from Van Allen Probes. The occurrence and intensity of whistler mode waves in the plasmasphere and plumes exhibit dependences on magnetic local time, L, and AE. Based on the dependence of the wave normal angle and Poynting flux direction on L shell and normalized wave frequency to electron cyclotron frequency (f ce ), whistler mode waves are categorized into four types. Type I: ~0.5 f ce with oblique wave normal angles mostly in plumes; Type II: 0.01–0.5 f ce with small wave normal angles in the outer plasmasphere or inside plumes; Type III: <0.01 f ce with oblique wave normal angles mostly within the plasmasphere or plumes; Type IV: 0.05–0.5 f ce with oblique wave normal angles deep inside the plasmasphere. The Poynting fluxes of Type I and II waves are mostly directed away from the equator, suggesting local amplification, whereas the Poynting fluxes of Type III and IV are directed either away from or toward the equator, and may originate from other source regions. Whistler mode waves in plumes have relatively small wave normal angles with Poynting flux mostly directed away from the equator and are associated with high electron fluxes from ~30 keV to hundreds of keV, all of which support local amplification. Whistler mode wave amplitudes in plumes can be stronger than typical plasmaspheric hiss, particularly during active times. Our results provide critical insights into understanding whistler mode wave generation inside the plasmasphere and plumes.
We describe a new, more accurate procedure for estimating and removing inner zone background contamination from Van Allen Probes Magnetic Electron Ion Spectrometer (MagEIS) radiation belt measurements. This new procedure is based on the underlying assumption that the primary source of background contamination in the electron measurements at L shells less than three, energetic inner belt protons, is relatively stable. Since a magnetic spectrometer can readily distinguish between foreground electrons and background signals, we are able to exploit the proton stability to construct a model of the background contamination in each MagEIS detector by only considering times when the measurements are known to be background dominated. We demonstrate, for relativistic electron measurements in the inner zone, that the new technique is a significant improvement upon the routine background corrections that are used in the standard MagEIS data processing, which can “overcorrect” and therefore remove real (but small) electron fluxes. As an example, we show that the previously reported 1-MeV injection into the inner zone that occurred in June of 2015 was distributed more broadly in L and persisted in the inner zone longer than suggested by previous estimates. Such differences can have important implications for both scientific studies and spacecraft engineering applications that make use of MagEIS electron data in the inner zone at relativistic energies. We compare these new results with prior work and present more recent observations that also show a 1-MeV electron injection into the inner zone following the September 2017 interplanetary shock passage.
We present the temporal evolution of electron Phase Space Density (PSD) in the outer radiation belt during the intense March 2015 geomagnetic storm. Comparing observed PSD profiles as a function of L* at fixed first, M, and second, K, adiabatic invariants with those produced by simulations is critical for determining the physical processes responsible for the outer radiation belt dynamics. Here we show that the bulk of the accelerated and enhanced outer radiation belt population consists of electrons with K < 0.17 G^0.5 Re. For these electrons, the observed PSD versus L* profiles during the recovery phase of the storm have a positive radial gradient. We compare the observed temporal evolution of the PSD profiles during the recovery phase with those produced by radial diffusion simulations driven by observed Ultralow Frequency wave power as measured on the ground. Our results indicate that the dominant flux enhancement, inside L* < 5, in the heart of the outer radiation belt during the March 2015 geomagnetic storm is consistent with that produced by fast inward radial diffusion of electrons from a dynamic outer boundary driven by enhanced Ultralow Frequency wave power.
A statistical study was conducted of Earth's radiation belt electron response to geomagnetic storms using NASA's Van Allen Probes mission. Data for electrons with energies ranging from 30 keV to 6.3 MeV were included and examined as a function of L-shell, energy, and epoch time during 110 storms with SYM-H ≤−50 nT during September 2012 to September 2017 (inclusive). The radiation belt response revealed clear energy and L-shell dependencies, with tens of keV electrons enhanced at all L-shells (2.5 ≤ L ≤ 6) in all storms during the storm commencement and main phase and then quickly decaying away during the early recovery phase, low hundreds of keV electrons enhanced at lower L-shells (~3 ≤ L ≤ ~4) in upward of 90% of all storms and then decaying gradually during the recovery phase, and relativistic electrons throughout the outer belt showing main phase dropouts with subsequent and generally unpredictable levels of replenishment during the recovery phase. Compared to prestorm levels, electrons with energies >1 MeV also revealed a marked increase in likelihood of a depletion at all L-shells through the outer belt (3.5 ≤ L ≤ 6). Additional statistics were compiled revealing the storm time morphology of the radiation belts, confirming the aforementioned qualitative behavior. Considering storm drivers in the solar wind: storms driven by coronal mass ejection (CME) shocks/sheaths and CME ejecta only are most likely to result in a depletion of >1-MeV electrons throughout the outer belt, while storms driven by full CMEs and stream interaction regions are most likely to produce an enhancement of MeV electrons at lower (L < ~5) and higher (L > ~4.5) L-shells, respectively. CME sheaths intriguingly result in a distinct enhancement of ~1-MeV electrons around L~5.5, and on average, CME sheaths and stream interaction regions result in double outer belt structures.
To understand the relationship between generation of electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves and energetic particle injections, we performed a statistical study of EMIC waves associated with and without injections based on the Van Allen Probes (Radiation Belt Storm Probes) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES; GOES-13 and GOES-15) observations. Using 47 months of observations, we identified wave events seen by the Van Allen Probes relative to the plasmapause and to energetic particle injections seen by GOES-13 and GOES-15 on the nightside. We separated the events into four categories: EMIC waves with (without) injections inside (outside) the plasmasphere. We found that He⁺ EMIC waves have higher occurrence rate inside the plasmasphere, while H⁺ EMIC waves predominantly occur outside the plasmasphere. Meanwhile, the time duration and peak occurrence rate of EMIC waves associated with injections are shorter and limited to a narrower magnetic local time region than those without injections, indicating that these waves have localized source regions. He⁺ EMIC waves inside the plasmasphere associated with injection are usually accompanied by an increase in H⁺ flux within energies of 1–50 keV through all magnetic local time regions, while most wave events outside the plasmasphere show less relationship with H⁺ flux increase. From these observations, we suggest that injected hot ions are the major driver of He⁺ EMIC waves inside the plasmasphere during active time. Expanding plasmasphere during quiet times can provide broad wave source regions for He⁺ EMIC waves on the dayside. However, H⁺ EMIC waves outside the plasmasphere show different characteristics, suggesting that these waves are generated by other processes.
The heavy ion component of the low-energy (eV to hundreds of eV) ion population in the inner magnetosphere, also known as the O⁺ torus, is a crucial population for various aspects of magnetospheric dynamics. Yet even though its existence has been known since the 1980s, its formation remains an open question. We present a comprehensive study of a low-energy (<keV), bidirectional O⁺ outflow event, which occurred deep into the inner magnetosphere (inside L = 4), and was observed by the Helium, Oxygen, Proton and Electron (HOPE) instrument aboard the Van Allen Probe B. The observed spectrogram exhibited multiple bands of field-aligned intensity enhancements with energy dispersion. A 2-D guiding-center test-particle tracing simulation demonstrates that the observed spectral features can be attributed to O⁺ ions exiting both hemispheres of the nightside ionosphere over L ~ 3–4 latitudinal and magnetic local time (MLT) ~ 21 to 23 hr longitudinal extent, directly entering the inner magnetosphere, and subsequently bouncing from one hemisphere to the other. The outflow is associated with earthward field-aligned Poynting flux enhancement and field-aligned electron beams, as observed at the Van Allen Probes location, as well as with strong upward field-aligned current, as revealed by the Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment (AMPERE) at the ionospheric footpoint of the spacecraft. O⁺ partial density in the region outside plasmapause was significantly enhanced by the outflow population, exceeding the H⁺ density and indicating the possible formation of an O⁺ torus.
- Dec 2018
Gyroresonant wave-particle interactions with very low frequency whistler mode chorus waves can accelerate subrelativistic seed electrons (hundreds of keV) to relativistic energies in the outer radiation belt during geomagnetic storms. In this study, we conduct a superposed epoch analysis of the chorus wave activity, the seed electron development, and the outer radiation belt electron response between L* = 2.5 and 5.5, for 25 coronal mass ejection and 35 corotating interaction region storms using Van Allen Probes observations. Electron data from the Magnetic Electron Ion Spectrometer and Relativistic Electron Proton Telescope instruments are used to monitor the storm-phase development of the seed and relativistic electrons, and magnetic field measurements from the Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite and Integrated Science instrument are used to identify the chorus wave activity. Our results show a deeper (lower L*), stronger (higher flux), and earlier (epoch time) average seed electron enhancement and a resulting greater average radiation belt electron enhancement in coronal mass ejection storms compared to the corotating interaction region storms despite similar levels and lifetimes of average chorus wave activity for the two storm drivers. The earlier and deeper seed electron enhancement during the coronal mass ejection storms, likely driven by greater convection and substorm activity, provides a higher probability for local acceleration. These results emphasize the importance of the timing and the level of the seed electron enhancements in radiation belt dynamics.
Recent observations have shown the existence of an apparent impenetrable barrier at the inner edge of the ultra-relativistic outer electron radiation belt. This apparent impenetrable barrier has not been explained. However, recent studies have suggested that fast loss, such as associated with scattering into the atmosphere from man-made very-low frequency transmissions, is required to limit the Earthward extent of the belt. Here we show that the steep flux gradient at the implied barrier location is instead explained as a natural consequence of ultra-low frequency wave radial diffusion. Contrary to earlier claims, sharp boundaries in fast loss processes at the barrier are not needed. Moreover, we show that penetration to the barrier can occur on the timescale of days rather than years as previously reported, with the Earthward extent of the belt being limited by the finite duration of strong solar wind driving, which can encompass only a single geomagnetic storm.
The Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) is a revolutionary mission that simultaneously investigates two of the most important overarching issues in Heliophysics today: the acceleration of energetic particles and interaction of the solar wind with the local interstellar medium. While seemingly disparate, these are intimately coupled because particles accelerated in the inner heliosphere play critical roles in the outer heliospheric interaction. Selected by NASA in 2018, IMAP is planned to launch in 2024. The IMAP spacecraft is a simple sun-pointed spinner in orbit about the Sun-Earth L1 point. IMAP’s ten instruments provide a complete and synergistic set of observations to simultaneously dissect the particle injection and acceleration processes at 1 AU while remotely probing the global heliospheric interaction and its response to particle populations generated by these processes. In situ at 1 AU, IMAP provides detailed observations of solar wind electrons and ions; suprathermal, pickup, and energetic ions; and the interplanetary magnetic field. For the outer heliosphere interaction, IMAP provides advanced global observations of the remote plasma and energetic ions over a broad energy range via energetic neutral atom imaging, and precise observations of interstellar neutral atoms penetrating the heliosphere. Complementary observations of interstellar dust and the ultraviolet glow of interstellar neutrals further deepen the physical understanding from IMAP. IMAP also continuously broadcasts vital real-time space weather observations. Finally, IMAP engages the broader Heliophysics community through a variety of innovative opportunities. This paper summarizes the IMAP mission at the start of Phase A development.
Shortly after the launch of the Van Allen Probes, a new three-belt con- figuration of the electron radiation belts was reported. Using data between September 2012 and November 2017, we have identified 30 three-belt events and found that about 18% of geomagnetic storms result in such configuration. Based on the identified events, we evaluated some characteristics of the remnant (intermediate) belt. We determined the energy range of occurrence and found it peaks at E = 5.2 MeV. We also determined that the magnetopause location and SYM-H value may play an important role in the outer belt losses that lead to formation and location of the remnant belt. Finally, we calculated the decay rates of the remnant belt for all events and found that their lifetime gets longer as energy increases, ranging from days at E = 1.8 MeV up to months at E = 6.3 MeV suggesting that remnant belts are extremely persistent.
We employ multipoint observations of the Van Allen Probes, THEMIS, GOES and Cluster to present case and statistical studies of the electromagnetic field, plasma and particle response to interplanetary (IP) shocks observed by the Wind satellite. On 27 February 2014 the initial encounter of an IP shock with the magnetopause occurred on the postnoon magnetosphere, consistent with the observed alignment of the shock with the spiral IMF. The dayside equatorial magnetosphere exhibited a dusk–dawn oscillatory electrical field with a period of ∼ 330s and peak-to-peak amplitudes of ∼ 15mVm⁻¹ for a period of 30min. The intensity of electrons in the energy range from 31.5 to 342KeV responded with periods corresponding to the shock-induced ULF (ultralow frequency) electric field waves. We then perform a statistical study of Ey variations of the electric field and associated plasma drift flow velocities for 60 magnetospheric events during the passage of interplanetary shocks. The Ey perturbations are negative (dusk-to-dawn) in the dayside magnetosphere (followed by positive or oscillatory perturbations) and dominantly positive (dawn-to-dusk direction) in the nightside magnetosphere, particularly near the Sun–Earth line within an L-shell range from 2.5 to 5. The typical observed amplitudes range from 0.2 to 6mVm⁻¹ but can reach 12mV during strong magnetic storms. We show that electric field perturbations increase with solar wind pressure, and the changes are especially marked in the dayside magnetosphere. The direction of the Vx component of plasma flow is in agreement with the direction of the Ey component and is antisunward at all local times except the nightside magnetosphere, where it is sunward near the Sun–Earth line. The flow velocities Vx range from 0. 2 to 40kms⁻¹ and are a factor of 5 to 10 times stronger near noon as they correspond to greater variations of the electric field in this region. We demonstrate that the shock-induced electric field signatures can be classified into four different groups according to the initial Ey electric field response and these signatures are dependent on local time. Negative and bipolar pulses predominate on the dayside while positive pulses occur on the nightside. The ULF electric field pulsations of Pc and Pi types produced by IP shocks are observed at all local times and in the range of periods from several tens of seconds to several minutes. We believe that most electric field pulsations of the Pc5 type in the dayside magnetosphere at L<6 are produced by field line resonances. We show that the direction of the shock normal determines the direction of the propagation of the shock-induced magnetic and plasma disturbances. The observed directions of velocity Vy predominately agree with those expected for the given spiral or orthospiral shock normal orientation.
- Oct 2018
Space weathering is an important process on airless bodies, and it must be considered when interpreting data from planetary missions. Previous work has shown that solar energetic particles may cause dielectric breakdown in regolith within permanently shadowed regions near the poles of the Moon. Here, we predict that dielectric breakdown weathering could have melted and/or vaporized 2−9% of gardened (i.e., thoroughly mixed) regolith at the equator and 5−11% near the poles. If so, then ∼3−10% of all gardened regolith on the Moon may have experienced dielectric breakdown, and this process must be considered when analyzing remote sensing data or soil samples returned by the Luna and Apollo missions.
The substorm process releases large amounts of energy into the magnetospheric system, although where the energy is transferred to and how it is partitioned remains an open question. In this study, we address whether the substorm process contributes a significant amount of energy to the ring current. The ring current is a highly variable region, and understanding the energization processes provides valuable insight into how substorm-ring current coupling may contribute to the generation of storm conditions and provide a source of energy for wave driving. In order to quantify the energy input into the ring current during the substorm process, we analyze Radiation Belt Storm Probes Ion Composition Experiment and Helium Oxygen Proton Electron ion flux measurements for H⁺, O⁺, and He⁺. The energy content of the ring current is estimated and binned spatially for L and magnetic local time. The results are combined with an independently derived substorm event list to perform a statistical analysis of variations in the ring current energy content with substorm phase. We show that the ring current energy is significantly higher in the expansion phase compared to the growth phase, with the energy enhancement persisting into the substorm recovery phase. The characteristics of the energy enhancement suggest the injection of energized ions from the tail plasma sheet following substorm onset. The local time variations indicate a loss of energetic H⁺ ions in the afternoon sector, likely due to wave-particle interactions. Overall, we find that the average energy input into the ring current is ∼9% of the previously reported energy released during substorms.
- Aug 2018
Auroral finger-like structures appear equatorward of the auroral oval in the diffuse auroral region and contribute to the auroral fragmentation into patches. A previous report of the first conjugate observation of auroral finger-like structures using a Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) Ground-Based Observatories camera and the THEMIS-E satellite at a radial distance of ∼8 RE showed antiphase oscillations of magnetic and plasma pressures in the dawnside plasma sheet. In the present study, we report another simultaneous observation of auroral finger-like structures at Gillam, Canada, at ∼0900 UT (0230 magnetic local time) on 14 November 2014 with the Radiation Belt Storm Probes satellites at 5.8 RE in the inner magnetosphere. From this simultaneous observation event, we obtained the following observations. (1) Auroral finger-like structures developed poleward in the equatorward moving auroral arc at the equatorward edge of the auroral oval. (2) Both the electron and ion OMNI fluxes measured by HOPE increased at ∼0900 UT as the satellite footprint entered the auroral region, indicating that the satellite was crossing the observed auroral finger-like structures. (3) The absolute value of magnetic pressure was several times that of the plasma pressure, and no systematic phase relationship was identified between the magnetic and plasma pressures, unlike that in the THEMIS case. Based on these observations, we discuss two possible causes of the observed finger-like structures, namely, pressure-driven instability in the magnetosphere and gradient drift instability in the ionosphere. In this paper, the latter possibility is newly suggested to develop in the equatorward moving aurora associated with the westward electric field in the equatorward ionospheric density gradient.
The composition of the inner magnetosphere is of great importance for determining the plasma pressure and thus the currents and magnetic field configuration. In this study, we perform a statistical survey of equatorial plasma pressure distributions and investigate the relative contributions of ions and electron with different energies inside of geostationary orbit under two auroral electrojet levels based on over 60 months of observations from the Helium, Oxygen, Proton, and Electron and Radiation Belt Storm Probes Ion Composition Experiment mass spectrometers onboard Van Allen Probes. We find that the total and partial pressures of different species increase significantly at high auroral electrojet levels with hydrogen pressure being dominant in the plasmasphere. The pressures of the heavy ions and electrons increase outside the plasmapause and develop a strong dawn-dusk asymmetry with ion pressures peaking at dusk and electron pressure peaking at dawn. In addition, ring current hydrogen with energies ranging from 50 keV up to several hundred keV is the dominant component of plasma pressure during both quiet (>90%) and active times (>60%), while oxygen with 10 < E < 50 keV and electrons with 0.1 < E < 40 keV become important during active times contributing more than 25% and 20% on the nightside, respectively, while the helium contribution is generally small. The results presented in this study provide a global picture of the equatorial plasma pressure distributions and the associated contributions from different species with different energy ranges, which advance our knowledge of wave generation and provide models with a systematic baseline of plasma composition.
This paper presents observations of electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves from multiple data sources during the four Geospace Environment Modeling challenge events in 2013 selected by the Geospace Environment Modeling Quantitative Assessment of Radiation Belt Modeling focus group: 17 and 18 March (stormtime enhancement), 31 May to 2 June (stormtime dropout), 19 and 20 September (nonstorm enhancement), and 23–25 September (nonstorm dropout). Observations include EMIC wave data from the Van Allen Probes, Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite, and Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms spacecraft in the near-equatorial magnetosphere and from several arrays of ground-based search coil magnetometers worldwide, as well as localized ring current proton precipitation data from low-altitude Polar Operational Environmental Satellite spacecraft. Each of these data sets provides only limited spatial coverage, but their combination shows consistent occurrence patterns and reveals some events that would not be identified as significant using near-equatorial spacecraft alone. Relativistic and ultrarelativistic electron flux observations, phase space density data, and pitch angle distributions based on data from the Relativistic Electron-Proton Telescope and Magnetic Electron Ion Spectrometer instruments on the Van Allen Probes during these events show two cases during which EMIC waves are likely to have played an important role in causing major flux dropouts of ultrarelativistic electrons, particularly near L* ~4.0. In three other cases, identifiable smaller and more short-lived dropouts appeared, and in five other cases, these waves evidently had little or no effect.
We present the observation of a spatially large microburst with multiple bounces made simultaneously by the Focused Investigation of Relativistic Electron Bursts: Intensity, Range, and Dynamics II (FIREBIRD-II) CubeSats on 2 February 2015. This is the first observation of a microburst with a subsequent decay made by two coorbiting but spatially separated spacecraft. From these unique measurements, we place estimates on the lower bounds of the spatial scales as well as quantify the electron bounce periods. The microburst's lower bound latitudinal scale size was 29 ± 1 km and the longitudinal scale size was 51 ± 1 km in low Earth orbit. We mapped these scale sizes to the magnetic equator and found that the radial and azimuthal scale sizes were at least 500 ± 10 km and 530 ± 10 km, respectively. These lower bound equatorial scale sizes are similar to whistler mode chorus wave source scale sizes, which supports the hypothesis that microbursts are a product of electron scattering by chorus waves. Lastly, we estimated the bounce periods for 200- to 800-keV electrons and found good agreement with four common magnetic field models.
Magnetospheric plasma waves play a significant role in ring current and radiation belt dynamics, leading to pitch angle scattering loss and/or stochastic acceleration of the particles. During a non-storm time dropout event on 24 September 2013, intense electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves were detected by Van Allen Probe A (Radiation Belt Storm Probes-A). We quantitatively analyze a conjunction event when Van Allen Probe A was located approximately along the same magnetic field line as MetOp-01, which detected simultaneous precipitation of >30 keV protons and energetic electrons over an unexpectedly broad energy range (>~30 keV). Multipoint observations together with quasi-linear theory provide direct evidence that the observed electron precipitation at higher energy (>~700 keV) is primarily driven by EMIC waves. However, the newly observed feature of the simultaneous electron precipitation extending down to ~30 keV is not supported by existing theories and raises an interesting question on whether EMIC waves can scatter such low-energy electrons.
The region occupying radial distances of ∼3-9 Earth radii (RE) in the nightside includes the near-Earth plasma sheet with stretched magnetic field lines and the inner magnetosphere with strong dipolar magnetic field. In this region, the plasma flow energy, which was injected into the inner magnetosphere from the magnetotail, is converted to particle heating and electromagnetic wave generation. These important processes are controlled by plasma anisotropies, which are the focus of this study. Using measurements of Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms and Van Allen Probes in this transition region we obtain radial profiles of ion and electron temperatures and anisotropies for various geomagnetic activity levels. Ion and electron anisotropies vary with the geomagnetic activity in opposite directions. Parallel anisotropic ions are observed together with transversely anisotropic electrons, whereas the change of ion anisotropy from parallel to transverse (with increasing Kp) is accompanied by the electron anisotropy changing from transverse to parallel. Based on plasma anisotropy observations, we estimate that the anisotropy-related currents (curvature currents) are about 10-20% of the diamagnetic currents.
This paper examines how hydrogen, helium, and oxygen (H, He, and O) ion fluxes at 1-1,000 keV typically respond to local magnetic dipolarization inside geosynchronous orbit. We extracted 144 dipolarizations that occurred at magnetic inclination >30° from the 2012-2016 tail seasons' observations of the Van Allen Probes spacecraft and then defined typical flux changes of these ion species by performing a superposed epoch analysis. On average, the dipolarization inside geosynchronous orbit is accompanied by a precursory transient decrease in the northward magnetic field component, transient impulsive enhancement in the westward electric field component, and decrease (increase) in the proton density (temperature). The coincident ion species experience an energy-dependent flux change, consisting of enhancement (depression) at energies above (below) ~50 keV. These properties morphologically resemble those around dipolarization fronts (or fast flows) in the near-Earth tail. A distinction among the ion species is the average energy of the flux ratio peak, being at 200-400 keV (100-200 keV) for He (H and O) ions. The flux ratio peaks at different energies likely reflect the different charge states of injected ionospheric and/or solar wind origin ion species. The ion spectra become harder for sharp dipolarizations, suggesting the importance of accompanying electric field in transporting and/or energizing the ions efficiently. Interestingly, the average flux ratio peak does not differ significantly among the ion species for ~2 min after onset, which implies that mass-dependent acceleration process is less important in the initial stage of dipolarization.
To better understand rapid enhancements of the seed populations (hundreds of keV electrons) in the heart of the Earth's outer radiation belt (L* ~ 3.5–5.0) during different geomagnetic activities, we investigate three enhancement events measured by Van Allen Probes in detail. Observations of the fluxes and the pitch angle distributions of energetic electrons are analyzed to determine rapid enhancements of the seed populations. Our study shows that three specified processes associated with substorm electron injections can lead to rapid enhancements of the seed populations, and the electron energy increases up to 342 keV. In the first process, substorm electron injections accompanied by the transient and intense substorm electric fields can directly lead to rapid enhancements of the seed populations in the heart of the outer radiation belt. In the second process, the substorm injected electrons are first trapped in the outer radiation belt and subsequently transported into L* < 4.5 by the convection electric field. In the third process, the lower energy electrons are first injected at L* ~ 5.3 and then undergo drift resonance with ultralow-frequency waves. These accelerated electrons by ultralow-frequency waves are further transported into L* < 4.5 due to the convection electric field. This process is consistent with the radial diffusion. Our results suggest that these specified processes are important for understanding the dynamics of the seed populations in the heart of the outer radiation belt.
By analyzing observations from Van Allen Probes in its inbound and outbound orbits, we present evidence of coherent enhancement of cold plasmaspheric electrons and ions due to drift-bounce resonance with ultralow frequency (ULF) waves. From 18:00 UT on 28 May 2017 to 10:00 UT on 29 May 2017, newly formed poloidal mode standing ULF waves with significant electric field oscillations were observed in two consecutive orbits when Probe B was traveling inbound. In contrast to observations during outbound orbits, the cold (<150 eV) electrons measured by the HOPE instrument were characterized by flux enhancements several times larger and bidirectional pitch angle distributions during inbound orbits. The electron number density inferred from upper hybrid waves is twice as larger as during inbound orbits, which were also confirmed by an increase of spacecraft potential. The observed ULF waves are identified as second harmonic modes that satisfy the drift-bounce resonant condition of N = 1 with cold electrons. An enhancement of the plasmaspheric ion number density to restore charge neutrality of plasmas in inbound orbits is observed, which is associated with an increase of ULF wave periods. The observations suggest that the dynamics of plasmaspheric electrons is modified by ULF waves through drift-bounce resonance and that plasmaspheric ions are indirectly impacted.
The Energetic Particle Detector (EPD) suite onboard the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft observes dispersive and repetitive fluxes of high-energy (50-400 keV) electrons within the Pc5 frequency band (2-8 MHz) in the dusk to midnight region of Earth's magnetotail. These microinjections are a new phenomenon in this region of the magnetosphere, presently poorly understood, but clearly a new signature that remotely senses large-scale magnetospheric boundary dynamics. It is therefore important to understand their properties and driver mechanisms. Here we have combined global magnetohydrodynamic simulations and particle tracing results with the MMS EPD Fly's Eye Energetic Particle Spectrometer (FEEPS) observations to investigate possible origins and source regions of the electron microinjections. Our simulation results suggest that the electron microinjections, observed in the dusk to premidnight sector, are associated with Kelvin-Helmholtz waves (KHWs) and flux transfer events (FTEs). Energetic electrons launched from a limited range of locations near the postnoon dusk magnetopause and at times when KHWs and FTEs pass by that region have drift paths that connect with MMS and thus create time-dependent microinjection electron signatures. Test-particle tracing results in the magnetohydrodynamic fields also support the field-aligned nature of electron microinjections observed by MMS. Though identifying the mechanism by which KHWs and FTEs might periodically inject electrons is beyond the scope of this work, our study does identify these duskside magnetopause boundary phenomena as likely agents of microinjection origins.
- May 2018
We survey radiation belt enhancement events during the Van Allen Probes era to determine what mechanism is the dominant cause of enhancements and where it is most effective. Two primary mechanisms have been proposed: (1) betatron/Fermi acceleration due to the Earthward radial transport of electrons, which produces monotonic gradients in phase space density (PSD), and (2) “local acceleration” due to gyro/Landau resonant interaction with electromagnetic waves, which produces radially localized growing peaks in PSD. To differentiate between these processes, we examine radial profiles of PSD in adiabatic coordinates using data from the Van Allen Probes and Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms satellites for 80 outer belt enhancement events from October 2012 to April 2017 This study shows that local acceleration is the dominant acceleration mechanism for MeV electrons in the outer belt, with 87% of the enhancement events exhibiting growing peaks. The strong correlation of the location of these with geomagnetic activity further supports this conclusion.
Plasmaspheric hiss was observed by Van Allen Probe B in association with energetic electron injections in the outer plasmasphere. The energy of injected electrons coincides with the minimum resonant energy calculated for the observed hiss wave frequency. Interestingly, the variations in hiss wave intensity, electron flux and ultra low frequency (ULF) wave intensity exhibit remarkable correlations, while plasma density is not correlated with any of these parameters. Our study provides direct evidence for the first time that the injected anisotropic electron population, which is modulated by ULF waves, modulates the hiss intensity in the outer plasmasphere. This also implies that the plasmaspheric hiss observed by Van Allen Probe B in the outer plasmasphere (L > ∼ 5.5) is locally amplified. Meanwhile, Van Allen Probe A observed hiss emission at lower L shells (< 5), which was not associated with electron injections but primarily modulated by the plasma density. The features observed by Van Allen Probe A suggest that the observed hiss deep inside the plasmasphere may have propagated from higher L shells.
Based on over 4 years of Van Allen Probes measurements, an empirical model of radiation belt electron equatorial pitch angle distribution (PAD) is constructed. The model, developed by fitting electron PADs with Legendre polynomials, provides the statistical PADs as a function of L-shell (L = 1-6), magnetic local time, electron energy (~30 keV to 5.2 MeV), and geomagnetic activity (represented by the Dst index) and is also the first empirical PAD model in the inner belt and slot region. For megaelectron volt electrons, model results show more significant day-night PAD asymmetry of electrons with higher energies and during disturbed times, which is caused by geomagnetic field configuration and flux radial gradient changes. Steeper PADs with higher fluxes around 90° pitch angle and lower fluxes at lower pitch angles for higher-energy electrons and during active times are also present, which could be due to electromagnetic ion cyclotron wave scattering. For hundreds of kiloelectron volt electrons, cap PADs are generally present in the slot region during quiet times and their energy-dependent features are consistent with hiss wave scattering, while during active times, cap PADs are less significant especially at outer part of slot region, which could be due to the complex energizing and transport processes. The 90°-minimum PADs are persistently present in the inner belt and appear in the slot region during active times, and minima at 90° pitch angle are more significant for electrons with higher energies, which could be a critical evidence in identifying the underlying physical processes responsible for the formation of 90°-minimum PADs.
Interplanetary coronal mass ejections (ICMEs) often cause Forbush decreases (Fds) in the flux of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs). We investigate how a single ICME, launched from the Sun on 2014 February 12, affected GCR fluxes at Mercury, Earth, and Mars. We use GCR observations from MESSENGER at Mercury, ACE/LRO at the Earth/Moon, and MSL at Mars. We find that Fds are steeper and deeper closer to the Sun, and that the magnitude of the magnetic field in the ICME magnetic ejecta as well as the "strength" of the ICME sheath both play a large role in modulating the depth of the Fd. Based on our results, we hypothesize that (1) the Fd size decreases exponentially with heliocentric distance, and (2) that two-step Fds are more common closer to the Sun. Both hypotheses will be directly verifiable by the upcoming Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter missions. This investigation provides the first systematic study of the changes in GCR modulation as a function of distance from the Sun using nearly contemporaneous observations at Mercury, Earth/Moon, and Mars, which will be critical for validating our physical understanding of the modulation process throughout the heliosphere.
We employ multipoint observations of the magnetosphere to present case and statistical studies of the electromagnetic field and plasma response to interplanetary (IP) shocks. On February 27, 2014 the initial encounter of an IP shock with the magnetopause occurred on the early postnoon magnetosphere, consistent with the observed alignment of the shock with the spiral IMF. The dayside equatorial magnetosphere exhibited a dusk-dawn oscillatory electrical field with a period of ~ 330 s and peak to peak amplitudes of ~ 15 mV/m for a period of 30 min. The intensity of electrons in the energy range from 31.5 to 342 KeV responded with periods corresponding to the shock induced ULF electric field waves. The initial electric field perturbation was directed dawnward for this case study. We then perform a statistical study of Ey variations of the electric field and associated plasma drift Vx and Vy flow velocities for 30 magnetospheric events during the passage of interplanetary shocks. The direction of the initial Vx component of plasma flow is tailward at all local times except the nightside magnetosphere, where flows are sunward near the sun-Earth line but antisunward towards dawn and dusk. The observed directions of the azimuthal velocity Vy predominately agree with those expected for the given spiral or orthospiral shock normal orientation.
- Mar 2018
We simulate the radiation belt electron flux enhancements during selected Geospace Environment Modeling (GEM) challenge events to quantitatively compare the major processes involved in relativistic electron acceleration under different conditions. Van Allen Probes observed significant electron flux enhancement during both the storm time of 17-18 March 2013 and non-storm time of 19-20 September 2013, but the distributions of plasma waves and energetic electrons for the two events were dramatically different. During 17-18 March 2013, the SYM-H minimum reached -130 nT, intense chorus waves (peak Bw~140 pT) occurred at 3.5<L<5.5, and several hundred keV to several MeV electron fluxes increased by ~2 orders of magnitude mostly at 3.5<L<5.5. During 19-20 September 2013, the SYM-H remained higher than -30 nT, modestly intense chorus waves (peak Bw~80 pT) occurred at L>5.5, and electron fluxes at energies up to 3 MeV increased by a factor of ~5 at L>5.5. The two electron flux enhancement events were simulated using the available wave distribution and diffusion coefficients from the GEM focus group “Quantitative Assessment of Radiation Belt Modeling”. By comparing the individual roles of local electron heating and radial transport, our simulation indicates that resonant interaction with chorus waves is the dominant process that accounts for the electron flux enhancement during the storm time event particularly near the flux peak locations, while radial diffusion by ultra-low frequency waves plays a dominant role in the enhancement during the non-storm time event. Incorporation of both processes reasonably reproduces the observed location and magnitude of electron flux enhancement.
Over the last decade, the solar wind has exhibited low densities and magnetic field strengths, representing anomalous states that have never been observed during the space age. As discussed by Schwadron et al. (2014a), the cycle 23–24 solar activity led to the longest solar minimum in more than 80 years and continued into the “mini” solar maximum of cycle 24. During this weak activity, we observed galactic cosmic ray fluxes that exceeded the levels observed throughout the space age, and we observed small solar energetic particle events. Here, we provide an update to the Schwadron et al (2014a) observations from the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Schwadron et al. (2014a) study examined the evolution of the interplanetary magnetic field, and utilized a previously published study by Goelzer et al. (2013) projecting out the interplanetary magnetic field strength based on the evolution of sunspots as a proxy for the rate that the Sun releases coronal mass ejections (CMEs). This led to a projection of dose rates from galactic cosmic rays on the lunar surface, which suggested a ∼20% increase of dose rates from one solar minimum to the next, and indicated that the radiation environment in space may be a worsening factor important for consideration in future planning of human space exploration. We compare the predictions of Schwadron et al. (2014a) with the actual dose rates observed by CRaTER in the last 4 years. The observed dose rates exceed the predictions by ∼10%, showing that the radiation environment is worsening more rapidly than previously estimated. Much of this increase is attributable to relatively low-energy ions, which can be effectively shielded. Despite the continued paucity of solar activity, one of the hardest solar events in almost a decade occurred in Sept 2017 after more than a year of all-clear periods. These particle radiation conditions present important issues that must be carefully studied and accounted for in the planning and design of future missions (to the Moon, Mars, asteroids and beyond).
We are pleased to address the comment on our paper from Shprits et al. since we believe it supports our conclusion that magnetopause shadowing and ultralow-frequency (ULF) wave outward transport can drive fast losses into the heart of the ultra-relativistic electron radiation belt and produce a remnant belt. As reported by Baker et al., the September 2012 geomagnetic storm produced this phenomena, and we showed how such losses could explain it. However, Shprits et al. claim that for this single specific storm that electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) wave losses are essential for explaining the observed third belt. We dispute this interpretation.
We perform a statistical study calculating electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) wave amplitudes based off in situ plasma measurements taken by the Van Allen Probes' (1.1-5.8 Re) Helium, Oxygen, Proton, Electron (HOPE) instrument. Calculated wave amplitudes are compared to EMIC waves observed by the Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite and Integrated Science on board the Van Allen Probes during the same period. The survey covers a 22-month period (1 November 2012 to 31 August 2014), a full Van Allen Probe magnetic local time (MLT) precession. The linear theory proxy was used to identify EMIC wave events with plasma conditions favorable for EMIC wave excitation. Two hundred and thirty-two EMIC wave events (103 H⁺-band and 129 He⁺-band) were selected for this comparison. Nearly all events selected are observed beyond L = 4. Results show that calculated wave amplitudes exclusively using the in situ HOPE measurements produce amplitudes too low compared to the observed EMIC wave amplitudes. Hot proton anisotropy (A hp) distributions are asymmetric in MLT within the inner (L < 7) magnetosphere with peak (minimum) A hp, ~0.81 to 1.00 ( 0.62), observed in the dawn (dusk), 0000 < MLT ≤ 1200 (1200 < MLT ≤ 2400), sectors. Measurements of A hp are found to decrease in the presence of EMIC wave activity. A hp amplification factors are determined and vary with respect to EMIC wave-band and MLT. He⁺-band events generally require double (quadruple) the measured A hp for the dawn (dusk) sector to reproduce the observed EMIC wave amplitudes.
The origins of Phobos and Deimos are uncertain; both are so space weathered that their surface compositions are difficult to determine using spectral reflectance measurements. We show how the winter temperatures and associated conditions in the polar regions of Phobos could make the regolith susceptible to space weathering from dielectric breakdown caused by solar energetic particles (SEPs). During SEP events, charged particles accumulate throughout the top ~1 mm of the regolith, which has low conductivity, and create subsurface electric fields that act to dissipate any net buildup of charge. The faster the net charge accumulates, the larger the electric field needed to dissipate it. If the magnitude of the subsurface electric field exceeds ~106 V m⁻¹, then dielectric breakdown is likely. This process rapidly dissipates the buildup of charge by vaporizing electrically conducting channels through the regolith. Dielectric breakdown is expected to be more prevalent in colder regions, where the electrical conductivity of the regolith is lower and the dissipation of charge is consequently slower. If the regolith on Phobos is made of silicates, or possibly phyllosilicates, we predict that dielectric breakdown weathering has melted or vaporized 5-10% of the impact gardened regolith in the polar regions, although this percentage depends on how long the regolith has been exposed to SEPs. This, in addition to the long exposure time of the regolith to other forms of space weathering, may help explain why both Phobos and Deimos are highly space weathered compared to other airless bodies in the Solar System, such as Earth's Moon.
Plasmaspheric hiss was observed by Van Allen Probe B in association with energetic electron injections in the outer plasmasphere. The energy of injected electrons coincides with the minimum resonant energy calculated for the observed hiss wave frequency. Interestingly, the variations of hiss wave intensity, electron flux, and ULF wave intensity exhibit remarkable correlations, while plasma density is not correlated with any of these parameters. Our study provides direct evidence for the first time that the injected anisotropic electron population, which is modulated by ULF waves, modulates the hiss intensity in the outer plasmasphere. This also implies that plasmaspheric hiss observed by Van Allen Probe B in the outer plasmasphere (L > ~ 5.5) is locally amplified. Meanwhile, Van Allen Probe A observed hiss emission at lower L shells (L shells.
- Dec 2017
Using the Van Allen Probes/Helium, Oxygen, Proton, and Electron (HOPE) mass spectrometer, we perform a case study of the temporal evolution of ion spectral structures observed in the energy range of 1-~50 keV throughout the geomagnetic storm of 2 October 2013. The ion spectral features are observed near the inner edge of the plasma sheet and are signatures of fresh transport from the plasma sheet into the inner magnetosphere. We find that the characteristics of the ion structures are determined by the intensity of the convection electric field. Prior to the beginning of the storm, the plasma sheet inner edge exhibits narrow nose spectral structures that vary little in energy across L values. Ion access to the inner magnetosphere during these times is limited to the nose energy bands. As convection is enhanced and large amounts of plasma are injected from the plasma sheet during the main phase of the storm, ion access occurs at a wide energy range, as no nose structures are observed. As the magnetosphere recovers from the storm, single noses and then multiple noses are observed once again. We use a model of ion drift and losses due to charge exchange to simulate the ion spectra and gain insight into the main observed features.
Using the total radiation belt electron content calculated from Van Allen Probe phase space density, the time-dependent and global response of the outer radiation belt during storms is statistically studied. Using phase space density reduces the impacts of adiabatic changes in the main phase, allowing a separation of adiabatic and nonadiabatic effects and revealing a clear modality and repeatable sequence of events in storm time radiation belt electron dynamics. This sequence exhibits an important first adiabatic invariant (μ)-dependent behavior in the seed (150 MeV/G), relativistic (1,000 MeV/G), and ultrarelativistic (4,000 MeV/G) populations. The outer radiation belt statistically shows an initial phase dominated by loss followed by a second phase of rapid acceleration, while the seed population shows little loss and immediate enhancement. The time sequence of the transition to the acceleration is also strongly μ dependent and occurs at low μ first, appearing to be repeatable from storm to storm.
Satellite observations of a significant population of very oblique chorus waves in the outer radiation belt have fueled considerable interest in the effects of these waves on energetic electron scattering and acceleration. However, corresponding diffusion rates are extremely sensitive to the refractive index N, controlled by hot plasma effects including Landau damping and wave dispersion modifications by suprathermal (15-100 eV) electrons. A combined investigation of wave and electron distribution characteristics obtained from the Van Allen Probes shows that peculiarities of the measured electron distribution significantly reduce Landau damping, allowing wave propagation with high N ∼ 100 − 200. Further comparing measured refractive indexes with theoretical estimates incorporating hot plasma corrections to the wave dispersion, we provide the first experimental demonstration that suprathermal electrons indeed control the upper limit of the refractive index of highly oblique whistler mode waves. Such results further support the importance of incorporating very oblique waves into radiation belt models.
Using high-resolution waveforms measured by the Van Allen Probes, we report a novel observation in the radiation belts. Namely, we show that multiband, discrete, rising-tone whistler mode chorus emissions exhibit a one-to-one correlation with Langmuir wave bursts. Moreover, the periodic Langmuir wave bursts are generally observed at the phase location where the chorus wave E|| component is oriented opposite to its propagation direction. The electron measurements show a beam in phase space density at the particle velocity that matches the parallel phase velocity of the chorus waves. Based on this evidence, we conclude that the chorus waves accelerate the suprathermal electrons via Landau resonance and generate a localized electron beam in phase space density. Consequently, the Langmuir waves are excited locally and are modulated by the chorus wave phase. This microscale interaction between chorus waves and high-frequency electrostatic waves provides a new insight into the nonlinear wave-particle interaction process.
We present observations that provide the strongest evidence yet that discrete whistler mode chorus packets cause relativistic electron microbursts. On 20 January 2016 near 1944 UT the low Earth orbiting CubeSat Focused Investigations of Relativistic Electron Bursts: Intensity, Range, and Dynamics (FIREBIRD II) observed energetic microbursts (near L = 5.6 and MLT = 10.5) from its lower limit of 220 keV, to 1 MeV. In the outer radiation belt and magnetically conjugate, Van Allen Probe A observed rising-tone, lower band chorus waves with durations and cadences similar to the microbursts. No other waves were observed. This is the first time that chorus and microbursts have been simultaneously observed with a separation smaller than a chorus packet. A majority of the microbursts do not have the energy dispersion expected for trapped electrons bouncing between mirror points. This confirms that the electrons are rapidly (nonlinearly) scattered into the loss cone by a coherent interaction with the large amplitude (up to ∼900 pT) chorus. Comparison of observed time-averaged microburst flux and estimated total electron drift shell content at L = 5.6 indicate that microbursts may represent a significant source of energetic electron loss in the outer radiation belt.
- Nov 2017
Using measurements from the Van Allen Probes, a penetration event of 10s – 100s of keV electrons and 10s of keV protons into the low L-shells (L<4) is studied. Timing and magnetic local time (MLT) differences of energetic particle deep penetration are unveiled and underlying physical processes are examined. During this event, both proton and electron penetrations are MLT-asymmetric. The observed MLT difference of proton penetration is consistent with convection of plasma sheet protons, suggesting enhanced convection during geomagnetic active times to be the cause of energetic proton deep penetration during this event. The observed MLT difference of 10s – 100s of keV electron penetration is completely different from 10s of keV protons and cannot be well explained by inward radial diffusion, convection of plasma sheet electrons, or transport of trapped electrons by enhanced convection electric field represented by the Volland-Stern model or a uniform dawn-dusk electric field model based on the electric field measurements. It suggests that the underlying physical mechanism responsible for energetic electron deep penetration, which is very important for fully understanding energetic electron dynamics in the low L-shells, should be MLT-localized.
There was a geomagnetic storm on 6–8 March 2016, in which Van Allen Probes A and B separated by ∼2.5 h measured increase of relativistic electrons with energies approximately several hundred keV to 1 MeV. Simultaneously, chorus waves were measured by both Van Allen Probes and Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission. Some of the chorus elements were rising tones, possibly due to nonlinear effects. These measurements are compared with a nonlinear theory of chorus waves incorporating the inhomogeneity ratio and the field equation. From this theory, a chorus wave profile in time and one-dimensional space is simulated. Test particle calculations are then performed in order to examine the energization rate of electrons. Some electrons are accelerated, although more electrons are decelerated. The measured time scale of the electron increase is inferred to be consistent with this nonlinear theory.
With the help of a new observing technique, we have detected diurnal variations in both lunar albedo protons and incident galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) at the Moon. Using the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) instrument on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), we have combined specific, targeted observations of the lunar horizon with our nominal nadir-viewing data to find a tentative enhancement in the yield of lunar albedo protons at the local sunrise terminator of the Moon relative to the local sunset terminator. A diurnal variation in hydrogenation in the top few cm of regolith is one possible interpretation of this result. We have also measured an unanticipated AM/PM difference in the arriving GCRs at the Moon which can be explained by a known streaming anisotropy. The relatively small data set used here (compared to previous mapping studies of CRaTER data) and heretofore untried horizon observations required us to develop improved data analysis techniques, which we will use in the future to revisit previous data sets and to analyze planned new horizon observations of lunar albedo protons.
The ion plasma sheet (~few hundred eV to ~few 10s keV) is usually dominated by H+ ions. Here, changes in ion composition within the plasma sheet are explored both during individual events, and statistically during 54 calm-to-storm events and during 21 active-to-calm events. Ion composition data from the HOPE (Helium, Oxygen, Proton, Electron) instruments onboard Van Allen Probes satellites provide exceptional spatial and temporal resolution of the H+, O+, and He+ ion fluxes in the plasma sheet. H+ shown to be the dominant ion in the plasma sheet in the calm-to-storm transition. However, the energy-flux of each ion changes in a quasi-linear manner during extended calm intervals. Heavy ions (O+ and He+) become increasingly important during such periods as charge-exchange reactions result in faster loss for H+ than for O+ or He+. Results confirm previous investigations showing that the ion composition of the plasma sheet can be largely understood (and predicted) during calm intervals from knowledge of: (a) the composition of previously injected plasma at the onset of calm conditions, and (b) use of simple drift-physics models combined with calculations of charge-exchange losses.
The excitation of low frequency (LF) plasmaspheric hiss, over the frequency range from 20 Hz to 100 Hz, is systematically investigated by comparing the hiss wave properties with electron injections at energies from tens of keV to several hundred keV. Both particle and wave data from the Van Allen Probes during the period from September 2012 to June 2016 are used in the present study. Our results demonstrate that the intensity of LF hiss has a clear day-night asymmetry, and increases with increasing geomagnetic activity, similar to the behavior of normal hiss (~100 Hz to several kHz). The occurrence rate of LF hiss in association with electron injections is up to 80% in the outer plasmasphere (L > 4) on the dayside, and the strong correlation extends to lower L shells for more active times. In contrast, at lower L shells (L < 3.5), LF hiss is seldom associated with electron injections. The LF hiss with Poynting flux directed away from the equator is dominant at higher magnetic latitudes and higher L shells, suggesting a local amplification of LF hiss in the outer plasmasphere. The averaged electron fluxes are larger at higher L shells where significant LF hiss wave events are observed. Our study suggests the importance of electron injections and their drift trajectories towards the dayside plasmasphere in locally amplifying the LF hiss waves detected by the Van Allen Probes.
We investigate the gradual diffusion of energetic electrons from the inner edge of the outer radiation belt into the slot region. The Van Allen Probes observed slow inward diffusion and decay of ~200-600 keV electrons following the intense geomagnetic storm that occurred on 17 March 2013. During the 10 day nondisturbed period following the storm, the peak of electron fluxes gradually moved from L ~ 2.7 to L ~ 2.4, and the flux levels decreased by a factor of ~2-4 depending on the electron energy. We simulated the radial intrusion and decay of electrons using a three-dimensional diffusion code, which reproduced the energy-dependent transport of electrons from ~100 keV to 1 MeV in the slot region. At energies of 100-200 keV, the electrons experience fast transport across the slot region due to the dominance of radial diffusion; at energies of 200-600 keV, the electrons gradually diffuse and decay in the slot region due to the comparable rate of radial diffusion and pitch angle scattering by plasmaspheric hiss; at energies of E > 700 keV, the electrons stopped diffusing near the inner edge of outer radiation belt due to the dominant pitch angle scattering loss. In addition to plasmaspheric hiss, magnetosonic waves and VLF transmitters can cause the loss of high pitch angle electrons, relaxing the sharp "top-hat" shaped pitch angle distributions created by plasmaspheric hiss. Our simulation indicates the importance of balance between radial diffusion and loss through pitch angle scattering in forming the diffusive intrusion of energetic electrons across the slot region.
Magnetospheric whistler mode waves play a key role in regulating the dynamics of the electron radiation belts. Recent satellite observations indicate a significant influence of interplanetary (IP) shocks on whistler mode wave power in the inner magnetosphere. In this study, we statistically investigate the response of whistler mode chorus and plasmaspheric hiss to IP shocks based on Van Allen Probes and THEMIS satellite observations. Immediately after the IP shock arrival, chorus wave power is usually intensified, often at postmidnight to prenoon sector, while plasmaspheric hiss wave power predominantly decreases near the dayside but intensifies near the nightside. We conclude that chorus wave intensification outside the plasmasphere is probably associated with the suprathermal electron flux enhancement caused by the IP shock. Through a simple ray tracing modeling assuming the scenario that plasmaspheric hiss is originated from chorus, we find that the solar wind dynamic pressure increase changes the magnetic field configuration to favor ray penetration in the nightside and promote ray refraction away from the dayside, potentially explaining the magnetic local time-dependent responses of plasmaspheric hiss waves following IP shock arrivals.
Ionospheric heavy ions play an important role in the dynamics of Earth's magnetosphere. The greater mass and gyro radius of ionospheric oxygen differentiates its behavior from protons at the same energies. Oxygen may have an impact on tail reconnection processes, and it can at least temporarily dominate the energy content of the ring current during geomagnetic storms. At sub-keV energies, multi-species ion populations in the inner magnetosphere form the warm plasma cloak, occupying the energy range between the plasmasphere and the ring current. Lastly, cold lighter ions from the mid-latitude ionosphere create the co-rotating plasmasphere whose outer regions can interact with the plasma cloak, plasma sheet, ring current, and outer electron belt. In this paper we present a statistical view of warm, cloak-like ion populations in the inner magnetosphere, contrasting in particular the warm plasma composition during quiet and active times. We study the relative abundances and absolute densities of warm plasma measured by the Van Allen Probes, whose two spacecraft cover the inner magnetosphere from plasmaspheric altitudes close to Earth to just inside geostationary orbit. We observe that warm (>30 eV) oxygen is most abundant closer to the plasmasphere boundary whereas warm hydrogen dominates closer to geostationary orbit. Warm helium is usually a minor constituent, but shows a noticeable enhancement in the near-Earth dusk sector.
This study examines multipoint observations during a conjunction between MMS and Van Allen Probes on 07 April 2016 in which a series of energetic particle injections occurred. With complementary data from THEMIS, Geotail, and LANL-GEO (16 spacecraft in total), we develop new insights on the nature of energetic particle injections associated with substorm activity. Despite this case involving only weak substorm activity (max. AE < 300 nT) during quiet geomagnetic conditions in steady, below-average solar wind, a complex series of at least six different electron injections was observed throughout the system. Intriguingly, only one corresponding ion injection was clearly observed. All ion and electron injections were observed at < 600 keV only. MMS reveals detailed substructure within the largest electron injection. A relationship between injected electrons with energy < 60 keV and enhanced whistler-mode chorus wave activity is also established from Van Allen Probes and MMS. Drift mapping using a simplified magnetic field model provides estimates of the dispersionless injection boundary locations as a function of universal time, magnetic local time, and L-shell. The analysis reveals that at least five electron injections, which were localized in magnetic local time, preceded a larger injection of both electrons and ions across nearly the entire nightside of the magnetosphere near geosynchronous orbit. The larger, ion and electron injection did not penetrate to L < 6.6, but several of the smaller, electron injections penetrated to L < 6.6. Due to the discrepancy between the number, penetration depth, and complexity of electron vs. ion injections, this event presents challenges to the current conceptual models of energetic particle injections.
Understanding the source and loss processes of various plasma populations is greatly aided by having accurate knowledge of their pitch angle distributions (PADs). Here we statistically analyze ~1 eV to 600 keV hydrogen (H⁺) PADs near the geomagnetic equator in the inner magnetosphere based on Van Allen Probes measurements, to comprehensively investigate how the H⁺ PADs vary with different energies, magnetic local times (MLTs), L shells, and geomagnetic conditions. Our survey clearly indicates four distinct populations with different PADs: (1) a pancake distribution of the plasmaspheric H⁺ at low L shells except for dawn sector; (2) a bidirectional field-aligned distribution of the warm plasma cloak; (3) pancake or isotropic distributions of ring current H⁺; (4) radiation belt particles show pancake, butterfly, and isotropic distributions depending on their energy, MLT, and L shell. Meanwhile, the pancake distribution of ring current H⁺ moves to lower energies as L shell increases, which is primarily caused by adiabatic transport. Furthermore, energetic H⁺ (>10 keV) PADs become more isotropic following the substorm injections, indicating wave-particle interactions. The radiation belt H⁺ butterfly distributions are identified in a narrow energy range of 100 < E < 400 keV at large L (L > 5), which are less significant during quiet times and extend from dusk to dawn sector through midnight during substorms. The different PADs near the equator provide clues of the underlying physical processes that produce the dynamics of these different populations.
Using the electron phase space density (PSD) data measured by Van Allen Probe A from January 2013 to April 2015, we investigate the effects of magnetospheric processes on relativistic electron dynamics in the Earth's outer radiation belt during 50 geomagnetic storms. A statistical study shows that the maximum electron PSDs for various μ (μ=630, 1096, 2290, and 3311 MeV/G) at L*~4.0 after the storm peak have good correlations with storm intensity (cc~0.70). This suggests that the occurrence and magnitude of geomagnetic storms are necessary for relativistic electron enhancements at the inner edge of the outer radiation belt (L*=4.0). For moderate or weak storm events (SYM-Hmin>~–100 nT) with weak substorm activity (AEmax<800 nT) and strong storm events (SYM-Hmin≤~–100 nT) with intense substorms (AEmax≥800 nT) during the recovery phase, the maximum electron PSDs for various μ at different L* values (L*=4.0, 4.5, and 5.0) are well correlated with storm intensity (cc>0.77). For storm events with intense substorms after the storm peak, relativistic electron enhancements at L*=4.5 and 5.0 are observed. This shows that intense substorms during the storm recovery phase are crucial to relativistic electron enhancements in the heart of the outer radiation belt. Our statistics study suggests that magnetospheric processes during geomagnetic storms have a significant effect on relativistic electron dynamics.
- Aug 2017
Observations from the Energetic Particle Detector (EPD) instrument suite aboard the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft show that energetic (>10s of keV) magnetospheric particle escape into the magnetosheath occurs commonly across the dayside. This includes the surprisingly frequent observation of magnetospheric electrons in the duskside magnetosheath, an unexpected result given assumptions regarding magnetic drift shadowing. 238 events have been identified during the first MMS dayside season that exhibit strongly anisotropic pitch angle distributions indicating mono-hemispheric field-aligned streaming away from the magnetopause in the 40 keV electron energy channel. A review of the extremely rich literature of energetic electron observations beyond the magnetopause is provided to place these new observations into historical context. Despite the extensive history of such research, these new observations provide a more comprehensive dataset that includes unprecedented magnetic local time (MLT) coverage of the dayside equatorial magnetopause/magnetosheath. These data clearly highlight the common escape of energetic electrons along magnetic field lines concluded to have been reconnected across the magnetopause. While these streaming escape events agree with prior studies which show strong correlation with geomagnetic activity (suggesting a magnetotail source) and occur most frequently during periods of southward IMF, the high number of duskside events is unexpected and previously unobserved. Although the lowest electron energy channel was the focus of this study, the events reported here exhibit pitch angle anisotropies indicative of streaming up to 200 keV, which could represent the magnetopause loss of >1 MeV electrons from the outer radiation belt.
Recent studies have utilized different charge states of oxygen ions as a tracer for the origins of plasma populations in the magnetosphere of Earth, using O+ as an indicator of ionospheric-originating plasma and O6+ as an indicator of solar wind-originating plasma. These studies have correlated enhancements in O6+ to various solar wind and geomagnetic conditions to characterize the dominant solar wind injection mechanisms into the magnetosphere, but did not include analysis of the temporal evolution of these ions. A 6th-order Fourier expansion model based empirically on a superposed epoch analysis of geomagnetic storms observed by Polar is presented in this study to provide insight into the evolution of both ionospheric-originating and solar wind-originating plasma throughout geomagnetic storms. At high energies (~200 keV) the flux of O+ and O6+ are seen to become comparable in the outer magnetosphere. Moreover, while the density of O+ is far higher than O6+, the two charge states have comparable pressures in the outer magnetosphere. The temperature of O6+ is generally higher than that of O+, because the O6+ is injected from pre-heated magnetosheath populations before undergoing further heating once in the magnetosphere. A comparison between the model results with O+ observations from the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission and the Van Allen Probes provides a validation of the model. In general, this empirical model agrees qualitatively well with the trends seen in both datasets. Quantitatively, the modeled density, pressure, and temperature almost always agree within a factor of at most 10, 5, and 2, respectively.
We report observational evidence of cold plamsmaspheric electron (< 200 eV) acceleration by ultra-low-frequency (ULF) waves in the plasmaspheric boundary layer on 10 September 2015. Strongly enhanced cold electron fluxes in the energy spectrogram were observed along with second harmonic mode waves with a period of about 1 minute which lasted several hours during two consecutive Van Allen Probe B orbits. Cold electron (<200 eV) and energetic proton (10-20 keV) bi-directional pitch angle signatures observed during the event are suggestive of the drift-bounce resonance mechanism. The correlation between enhanced energy fluxes and ULF waves leads to the conclusions that plasmaspheric dynamics is strongly affected by ULF waves. Van Allen Probe A and B, GOES 13, GOES 15 and MMS 1 observations suggest ULF waves in the event were strongest on the dusk-side magnetosphere. Measurements from MMS 1 contain no evidence of an external wave source during the period when ULF waves and injected energetic protons with a bump-on-tail distribution were detected by Van Allen Probe B. This suggests that the observed ULF waves were probably excited by a localized drift-bounce resonant instability, with the free energy supplied by substorm-injected energetic protons. The observations by Van Allen Probe B suggest that energy transfer between particle species in different energy ranges can take place through the action of ULF waves, demonstrating the important role of these waves in the dynamical processes of the inner magnetosphere.
How relativistic electrons are lost is an important question surrounding the complex dynamics of the Earth's outer radiation belt. Radial loss to the magnetopause and local loss to the atmosphere are two main competing paradigms. Here, on the basis of the analysis of a radiation belt storm event on 27 February 2014, we present new evidence for the EMIC wave-driven local precipitation loss of relativistic electrons in the heart of the outer radiation belt. During the main phase of this storm, the radial profile of relativistic electron phase space density was quasi-monotonic, qualitatively inconsistent with the prediction of radial loss theory. The local loss at low L-shells was required to prevent the development of phase space density peak resulting from the radial loss process at high L-shells. The rapid loss of relativistic electrons in the heart of outer radiation belt was observed as a dip structure of the electron flux temporal profile closely related to intense EMIC waves. Our simulations further confirm that the observed EMIC waves within a quite limited longitudinal region was able to reduce the off-equatorially mirroring relativistic electron fluxes by up to 2 orders of magnitude within about 1.5 h.
We present an analysis of “boomerang-shaped” pitch angle evolutions of outer radiation belt relativistic electrons observed by the Van Allen Probes after the passage of an interplanetary shock on June 7th, 2014. The flux at different pitch angles is modulated by Pc5 waves, with equatorially mirroring electrons reaching the satellite first. For 90∘ pitch angle electrons, the phase change of the flux modulations across energy exceeds 180∘, and increasingly tilts with time. Using estimates of the arrival time of particles of different pitch angles at the spacecraft location, a scenario is investigated in which shock-induced ULF waves interact with electrons through the drift resonance mechanism in a localized region westward of the spacecraft. Numerical calculations on particle energy gain with the modified ULF wave field reproduce the observed boomerang stripes and modulations in the electron energy spectrogram. The study of boomerang stripes and their relationship to drift-resonance taking place at a location different from the observation point adds new understanding of the processes controlling the dynamics of the outer radiation belt.
- Jul 2017
Particle radiation has significant effects for astronauts, satellites and planetary bodies throughout the Solar System. Acute space radiation hazards pose risks to human and robotic exploration. This radiation also naturally weathers the exposed surface regolith of the Moon, the two moons of Mars, and other airless bodies, and contributes to chemical evolution of planetary atmospheres at Earth, Mars, Venus, Titan, and Pluto. We provide a select review of recent areas of research covering the origin of SEPs from coronal mass ejections low in the corona, propagation of events through the solar system during the anomalously weak solar cycle 24 and important examples of radiation interactions for Earth, other planets and airless bodies such as the Moon.
Electrostatic electron cyclotron harmonic (ECH) waves generated by the electron loss cone distribution can produce efficient scattering loss of plasma sheet electrons, which has a significant effect on the dynamics in the outer magnetosphere. Here we report two ECH emission events around the same location L≈ 5.7–5.8, MLT ≈ 12 from Van Allen Probes on 11 February (event A) and 9 January 2014 (event B), respectively. The spectrum of ECH waves was centered at the lower half of the harmonic bands during event A, but the upper half during event B. The observed electron phase space density in both events is fitted by the subtracted bi-Maxwellian distribution, and the fitting functions are used to evaluate the local growth rates of ECH waves based on a linear theory for homogeneous plasmas. ECH waves are excited by the loss cone instability of 50 eV–1 keV electrons in the lower half of harmonic bands in the low-density plasmasphere in event A, and 1–10 keV electrons in the upper half of harmonic bands in a relatively high-density region in event B. The current results successfully explain observations and provide a first direct evidence on how ECH waves are generated in the lower and upper half of harmonic frequency bands.
Using the particle data measured by Van Allen Probe A from October 2012 to March 2016, we investigate in detail the radiation belt seed population and its association with the relativistic electron dynamics during 74 geomagnetic storms. The period of the storm recovery phase was limited to 72 h. The statistical study shows that geomagnetic storms and substorms play important roles in the radiation belt seed population (336 keV electrons) dynamics. Based on the flux changes of 1 MeV electrons before and after the storm peak, these storm events are divided into two groups of "large flux enhancement" and "small flux enhancement." For large flux enhancement storm events, the correlation coefficients between the peak flux location of the seed population and those of relativistic electrons (592 keV, 1 MeV, 1.8 MeV, and 2.1 MeV) during the storm recovery phase decrease with electron kinetic energy, being 0.92, 0.68, 0.49, and 0.39, respectively. The correlation coefficients between the peak flux of the seed population and those of relativistic electrons are 0.92, 0.81, 0.75, and 0.73. For small flux enhancement storm events, the correlation coefficients between the peak flux location of the seed population and those of relativistic electrons are relatively smaller, while the peak flux of the seed population is well correlated with those of relativistic electrons (correlation coefficients >0.84). It is suggested that during geomagnetic storms there is a good correlation between the seed population and ≤1 MeV electrons and the seed population is important to the relativistic electron dynamics.
- May 2017
This paper demonstrates that an ion Bernstein instability can be a possible source for recently reported electromagnetic waves with frequencies at or near the singly ionized oxygen ion cyclotron frequency, ΩO+, and its harmonics. The particle measurements during strong wave activity revealed a relatively high concentration of oxygen ions (∼15%) whose phase space density exhibits a local peak at energy ∼20 keV. Given that the electron plasma-to-cyclotron frequency ratio is ωpe/Ωe≳1, this energy corresponds to the particle speed v/vA≳0.3, where vA is the oxygen Alfvén speed. Using the observational key plasma parameters, a simplified ion velocity distribution is constructed, where the local peak in the oxygen ion velocity distribution is represented by an isotropic shell distribution. Kinetic linear dispersion theory then predicts unstable Bernstein modes at or near the harmonics of ΩO+ and at propagation quasi-perpendicular to the background magnetic field, B0. If the cold ions are mostly protons, these unstable modes are characterized by a low compressibility ( |δB∥|2/|δB|2≲0.01), a small phase speed (vph∼0.2vA), a relatively small ratio of the electric field energy to the magnetic field energy (between 10−4 and 10−3), and the Poynting vector directed almost parallel to B0. These linear properties are overall in good agreement with the properties of the observed waves. We demonstrate that superposition of the predicted unstable Bernstein modes at quasi-perpendicular propagation can produce the observed polarization properties, including the minimum variance direction on average almost parallel to B0.
- Apr 2017
- University of New Hampshire Interdisciplinary Science & Engineering Symposium
UNH has formed a collaborative research and education venture with seven local high schools. Students are building SAM-III fluxgate magnetometers. In the process, students are learning both analog and digital electronics, circuit construction, and core physics from electromagnetism. The magnetometers will be used for demonstration purposes in the schools and as elements in a distributed array that will be coordinated for the purpose of performing space physics research in the New Hampshire area. Geomagnetic variations at ground level are caused by electric currents 100 km overhead. The measurement of spatial and temporal variability in the ground level fluctuations provides important clues to ionospheric dynamics that can be correlated with spacecraft data. While the construction of the magnetometers is documented, deployment of the instruments constitutes problems in power and data handling that are unsolved engineering problems that the teams must tackle. Several working magnetometers already exist and there are different approaches underway to solve the power and data handling problems. When completed, the array will permit advanced scientific research into ionospheric dynamics that will continue to involve the students and schools that built the array.
Prior studies of microburst precipitation have largely relied on estimates of the spatial scale and temporal duration of the microburst region in order to determine the radiation belt loss rate of relativistic electrons. These estimates have often relied on the statistical distribution of microburst events. However, few studies have directly observed the spatial and temporal evolution of a single microburst event. In this study, we combine BARREL balloon-borne X-ray measurements with FIREBIRD-II and AeroCube-6 CubeSat electron measurements to determine the spatial and temporal evolution of a microburst region in the morning MLT sector on 13 August 2015. The microburst region is found to extend across at least four hours in local time in the morning sector, from 09:00 to 13:00 MLT, and from L of 5 out to 10. The microburst event lasts for nearly nine hours. Smaller scale structure is investigated using the dual AeroCube-6 CubeSats, and is found to be consistent with the spatial size of whistler mode chorus wave observations near the equatorial plane.
Space physics is the study of Earth's home in space. Elements of space physics include how the Sun works from its interior to its atmosphere, the environment between the Sun and planets out to the interstellar medium, and the physics of the magnetic barriers surrounding Earth and other planets. Space physics is highly relevant to society. Space weather, with its goal of predicting how Earth's technological infrastructure responds to activity on the Sun, is an oft-cited example, but there are many more. Space physics has important impacts in formulating public policy.
We investigate a quiet-time event of magnetospheric Pc5 ultra low frequency (ULF) waves and their likely external drivers using multiple spacecraft observations. Enhancements of electric and magnetic field perturbations in two narrow frequency bands, 1.5-2 mHz and 3.5-4 mHz, were observed over a large radial distance range from r ~5 to 11 RE. During the first half of this event, perturbations were mainly observed in the transverse components and only in the 3.5-4 mHz band. In comparison, enhancements were stronger during the second half in both transverse and compressional components and in both frequency bands. No indication of field line resonances was found for these magnetic field perturbations. Perturbations in these two bands were also observed in the magnetosheath, but not in the solar wind dynamic pressure perturbations. For the first interval, good correlations between the flow perturbations in the magnetosphere and magnetosheath and an indirect signature for Kelvin-Helmholtz (K-H) vortices suggest K-H surface waves as the driver. For the second interval, good correlations are found between the magnetosheath dynamic pressure perturbations, magnetopause deformation, and magnetospheric waves, all in good correspondence to IMF discontinuities. The characteristics of these perturbations can be explained by being driven by foreshock perturbations resulting from these IMF discontinuities. This event shows that even during quiet periods, KH-unstable magnetopause and ion foreshock perturbations can combine to create a highly dynamic magnetospheric ULF wave environment.
Using the Van Allen Probe long-term (2013 – 2015) observations and quasi-linear simulations of wave-particle interactions, we examine the combined or competing effects of whistler-mode waves (chorus or hiss) and magnetosonic (MS) waves on energetic (<0.5 MeV) and relativistic (>0.5 MeV) electrons inside and outside the plasmasphere. Although whistler-mode chorus waves and MS waves can singly or jointly accelerate electrons from the hundreds of keV energy to the MeV energy in the low-density trough, most of the relativistic electron enhancement events are best correlated with the chorus wave emissions outside the plasmapause. Inside the plasmasphere, intense plasmaspheric hiss can cause the net loss of relativistic electrons via persistent pitch angle scattering, regardless of whether MS waves were present or not. The intense hiss waves not only create the energy-dependent electron slot region, but also remove a lot of the outer radiation belt electrons when the expanding dayside plasmasphere frequently covers the outer zone. Since whistler-mode waves (chorus or hiss) can resonate with more electrons than MS waves, they play dominant roles in changing the outer radiation belt and the slot region. However, MS waves can accelerate the energetic electrons below 400 keV and weaken their loss inside the plasmapause. Thus, MS waves and plasmaspheric hiss generate different competing effects on energetic and relativistic electrons in the high-density plasmasphere.
Recent studies have shown that chorus can efficiently accelerate the outer radiation belt electrons to relativistic energies. Chorus, previously often observed above 0.1 equatorial electron gyrofrequency fce, was generated by energetic electrons originating from Earth's plasma sheet. Chorus below 0.1 fce has seldom been reported until the recent data from Van Allen Probes, but its origin has not been revealed so far. Because electron resonant energy can approach the relativistic level at extremely low frequency, relativistic effects should be considered in the formula for whistler mode wave growth rate. Here we report high-resolution observations during the 14 October 2014 small storm and firstly demonstrate, using a fully relativistic simulation, that electrons with the high-energy tail population and relativistic pitch angle anisotropy can provide free energy sufficient for generating chorus below 0.1 fce. The simulated wave growth displays a very similar pattern to the observations. The current results can be applied to Jupiter, Saturn, and other magnetized planets.
- Mar 2017
We present measurements of relativistic electrons (0.7–1.5 MeV) in the inner zone and slot region obtained by the Magnetic Electron and Ion Spectrometer (MagEIS) instrument on Van Allen Probes. The data presented are corrected for background contamination, which is primarily due to inner-belt protons in these low-L regions. We find that ∼1 MeV electrons were transported into the inner zone following the two largest geomagnetic storms of the Van Allen Probes era to date, the March and June 2015 events. As ∼1 MeV electrons were not observed in Van Allen Probes data in the inner zone prior to these two events, the injections created a new inner belt that persisted for at least 1.5 years. In contrast, we find that electrons injected into the slot region decay on much faster timescales, approximately tens of days. Furthermore, we find no evidence of >1.5 MeV electrons in the inner zone during the entire time interval considered (April 2013 through September 2016). The energies we examine thus span a transition range in the steeply falling inner zone electron spectrum, where modest intensities are observed at 0.7 MeV, and no electrons are observed at 1.5 MeV. To validate the results obtained from the background corrected flux measurements, we also present detailed pulse-height spectra from individual MagEIS detectors. These measurements confirm our results and also reveal low-intensity inner zone and slot region electrons that are not captured in the standard background corrected data product. Finally, we briefly discuss efforts to refine the upper limit of inner zone MeV electron flux obtained in earlier work.
Energetic (hundreds of keV) electrons in the radiation belt slot region have been found to exhibit the butterfly pitch angle distributions. Resonant interactions with magnetosonic and whistler-mode waves are two potential mechanisms for the formation of these peculiar distributions. Here we perform a statistical study of energetic electron pitch angle distribution characteristics measured by Van Allen Probes in the slot region during a three-year period from May 2013 to May 2016. Our results show that electron butterfly distributions are closely related to magnetosonic waves rather than to whistler-mode waves. Both electron butterfly distributions and magnetosonic waves occur more frequently at the geomagnetically active times than at the quiet times. In a statistical sense, more distinct butterfly distributions usually correspond to magnetosonic waves with larger amplitudes and vice versa. The averaged magnetosonic wave amplitude is less than 5 pT in the case of normal and flat-top distributions with a butterfly index BI = 1 but reaches ∼ 35–95 pT in the case of distinct butterfly distributions with BI > 1.3. For magnetosonic waves with amplitudes >50 pT, the occurrence rate of butterfly distribution is above 80%. Our study suggests that energetic electron butterfly distributions in the slot region are primarily caused by magnetosonic waves.
The relation between radiation belt electrons and solar wind/magnetospheric processes is of particular interest due to both scientific and practical needs. Though many studies have focused on this topic, electron data from Van Allen Probes with wide L shell coverage and fine energy resolution, for the first time, enabled this statistical study on the relation between radiation belt electrons and solar wind parameters/geomagnetic indices as a function of first adiabatic invariant μ and L*. Good correlations between electron phase space density (PSD) and solar wind speed, southward IMF Bz, SYM-H and AL indices are found over wide μ and L* ranges, with higher correlation coefficients and shorter time lags for low-μ electrons than high-μ electrons; the anti-correlation between electron PSD and solar wind proton density is limited to high-μ electrons at high L*. The solar wind dynamic pressure has dominantly positive correlation with low-μ electrons and negative correlation with high-μ electrons at different L*. In addition, electron PSD enhancements also correlate well with various solar wind/geomagnetic parameters, and for most parameters this correlation is even better than that of electron PSD while the time lag is also much shorter. Among all parameters investigated, AL index is shown to correlate the best with electron PSD enhancements, with correlation coefficients up to ~0.8 for low-μ electrons (time lag ~ 0 day) and ~0.7 for high-μ electrons (time lag ~ 1-2 days), suggesting the importance of seed and source populations provided by substorms in radiation belt electron PSD enhancements.
This paper presents observations of ultra-low frequency (ULF) waves from Van Allen Probes. The event that generated the ULF waves occurred two days after a minor geomagnetic storm during a geomagnetically quiet time. Narrowband pulsations with a frequency of about 7 mHz with moderate amplitudes were registered in the pre-midnight sector when Probe A was passing through an enhanced density region near geosynchronous orbit. Probe B, which passed through the region earlier, did not detect the narrowband pulsations but only broadband noise. Despite the single-spacecraft measurements, we were able to determine various wave properties. We find that (1) the observed waves are a second harmonic poloidal mode propagating westward with an azimuthal wave number estimated to be ∼100; (2) the magnetic field fluctuations have a finite compressional component due to small but finite plasma beta (∼0.1); (3) the energetic proton fluxes in the energy ranging from above 10 keV to about 100 keV exhibit pulsations with the same frequency as the poloidal mode and energy-dependent phase delays relative to the azimuthal component of the electric field, providing evidence for drift-bounce resonance; and (4) the second harmonic poloidal mode may have been excited via the drift-bounce resonance mechanism with free energy fed by the inward radial gradient of ∼80 keV protons. We show that the wave active region is where the plume overlaps the outer edge of ring current and suggest that this region can have a wide longitudinal extent near geosynchronous orbit.
Radiation in the form of solar energetic particles (SEPs) presents a severe risk to the short-term health of astronauts and the success of human exploration missions beyond Earth’s protective shielding. Modeling how shielding mitigates the dose accumulated by astronauts is an essential step toward reducing these risks. PREDICCS (Predictions of radiation from REleASE, EMMREM, and Data Incorporating the CRaTER, COSTEP, and other SEP measurements) is an online tool for the near real-time prediction of radiation exposure at Earth, the Moon, and Mars behind various levels of shielding. We compare shielded dose rates from PREDICCS with dose rates from the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) at the Moon and from the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) during its cruise phase to Mars for five solar events in 2012 when Earth, MSL, and Mars were magnetically well connected. Calculations of the accumulated dose demonstrate a reasonable agreement between PREDICCS and RAD ranging from as little as 2% difference to 54%. We determine mathematical relationships between shielding levels and accumulated dose. Lastly, the gradient of accumulated dose between Earth and Mars shows that for the largest of the five solar events, lunar missions require aluminum shielding between 1.0 g cm−2 and 5.0 g cm−2 to prevent radiation exposure from exceeding the 30-day limits for lens and skin. The limits were not exceeded near Mars.
Magnetospheric whistler-mode waves are of great importance in the radiation belt electron dynamics. Here, on the basis of the analysis of a rare event with the simultaneous disappearances of whistler-mode plasmaspheric hiss, exohiss and chorus triggered by a sudden decrease in the solar wind dynamic pressure, we provide evidences for the following physical scenarios: (1) nonlinear generation of chorus controlled by the geomagnetic field inhomogeneity, (2) origination of plasmaspheric hiss from chorus, and (3) leakage of plasmaspheric hiss into exohiss. Following the reduction of the solar wind dynamic pressure, the dayside geomagnetic field configuration with the enhanced inhomogeneity became unfavorable for the generation of chorus, and the quenching of chorus directly caused the disappearances of plasmaspheric hiss and then exohiss.
We present multi-point simultaneous observations of the near-Earth magnetotail and outer radiation belt during the substorm electron injection event on 16 August 2013. THEMIS-A in the near-Earth magnetotail observed flux-enhanced electrons of 300 keV during the magnetic field dipolarization. Geosynchronous orbit satellites also observed the intensive electron injections. Located in the outer radiation belt, RBSP-A observed enhancements of MeV electrons accompanied by substorm dipolarization. The phase space density (PSD) of MeV electrons at L*~ 5.4 increased by one order of magnitude in one hour, resulting in a local PSD peak of MeV electrons, which was caused by the direct effect of substorm injections. Enhanced MeV electrons in the heart of the outer radiation belt were also detected within two hours, which may be associated with intensive substorm electron injections and subsequent local acceleration by chorus waves. Multi-point observations have shown that substorm electron injections not only can be the external source of MeV electrons at the outer edge of the outer radiation belt (L*~ 5.4), but also can provide the intensive seed populations in the outer radiation belt. These initial higher energy electrons from injection can reach relativistic energy much faster. The observations also provide evidence that enhanced substorm electron injections can explain rapid enhancements of MeV electrons in the outer radiation belt.
We conduct a statistical study on the sudden response of outer radiation belt electrons due to interplanetary (IP) shocks during the Van Allen Probes era, i.e., 2012 to 2015. Data from the REPT instrument onboard Van Allen Probes are used to investigate the highly relativistic electron response (E > 1.8 MeV) within the first few minutes after shock impact. We investigate the relationship of IP shock parameters, such as Mach number, with the highly relativistic electron response, including spectral properties and radial location of the shock-induced injection. We find the driving solar wind structure of the shock does not affect occurrence for enhancement events, 25% of IP shocks are associated with prompt energization, and 14% are associated with MeV electron depletion. Parameters that represent IP shock strength are found to correlate best with highest levels of energization, suggesting that shock strength may play a key role in the severity of the enhancements. However, not every shock results in an enhancement, indicating that magnetospheric preconditioning may be required.
Understanding the dynamical behavior of ~1 eV to 50 keV ions and identifying the energies at which the morphologies transit are important in that they involve the relative intensities and distributions of the large-scale electric and magnetic fields, the outflow and recombination rates. However, there have been only few direct observational investigations of the transition in drift behaviors of different energy ions before the Van Allen Probes era. Here, we statistically analyze ~1 eV to 50 keV Hydrogen (H+) differential flux distributions near geomagnetic equator by using Van Allen Probes observations to investigate the H+ dynamics under the regulation of large-scale electric and magnetic fields. Our survey clearly indicates three types of H+ behaviors within different energy ranges, which is consistent with previous theory predictions. Using simple electric and magnetic field models in UBK coordinates, we have further constrained the source regions of different energy ions and their drift directions.
We present cross-scale magnetospheric observations of the 17 March 2015 (St. Patrick's Day) storm, by THEMIS, Van Allen Probes (RBSP), and TWINS, plus upstream ACE/Wind solar wind data. THEMIS crossed the bow shock or magnetopause 22 times, and observed the magnetospheric compression that initiated the storm. Empirical models reproduce these boundary locations within 0.7 RE. Van Allen Probes crossed the plasmapause 13 times; test particle simulations reproduce these encounters within 0.5 RE. Before the storm, Van Allen Probes measured quiet double-nose proton spectra in the region of corotating cold plasma. About 15 min after a 0605 UT dayside southward turning, Van Allen Probes captured the onset of inner magnetospheric convection, as a density decrease at the moving corotation-convection boundary (CCB), and a steep increase in ring current (RC) proton flux. During the first several hours of the storm, Van Allen Probes measured highly dynamic ion signatures (numerous injections, multiple spectral peaks). Sustained convection after ∼1200 UT initiated a major buildup of the midnight-sector ring current (measured by RBSP A), with much weaker duskside fluxes (measured by RBSP B, THEMIS a, d). A close conjunction of THEMIS d, RBSP A, and TWINS 1 at 1631 UT shows good three-way agreement in the shapes of two-peak spectra from the center of the partial RC. A mid-storm injection, observed by Van Allen Probes and TWINS at 1740 UT, brought in fresh ions with lower average energies (leading to globally less energetic spectra in precipitating ions) but increased the total pressure. The cross-scale measurements of 17 March 2015 contain significant spatial, spectral, and temporal structure.