skip to main content

Title: Superposed Epoch Analysis of Dispersionless Particle Injections Inside Geosynchronous Orbit

Dispersionless injections, involving sudden, simultaneous flux enhancements of energetic particles over some broad range of energy, are a characteristic signature of the particles that are experiencing a significant acceleration and/or rapid inward transport at the leading edge of injections. We have statistically analyzed data from Van Allen Probes (also known as Radiation Belt Storm Probes [RBSP]) to reveal where the proton (H+) and electron (e) dispersionless injections occur preferentially inside geosynchronous orbit and how they develop depending on local magnetic field changes. By surveying measurements of RBSP during four tail seasons in 2012–2019, we have identified 171 dispersionless injection events. Most of the events, which are accompanied by local magnetic dipolarizations, occur in the dusk‐to‐midnight sector, regardless of particle species. Out of the selected 171 events, 75 events exhibit dispersionless injections of both H+and e, which occur within 2 min of each other. With only three exceptions, the both‐species injection events are further divided into two main subgroups: One is the H+preceding eevents with a time offset of tens of seconds between H+and e, and the other the concurrent H+and eevents without any time offset. Our superposed epoch results raise the intriguing possibility that the presence or absence of a pronounced negative dip in the local magnetic field ahead of the concurrent sharp dipolarization determines which of the two subgroups will occur. The difference between the two subgroups may be explained in terms of the dawn‐dusk asymmetry of localized diamagnetic perturbations ahead of a deeply penetrating dipolarization front.

more » « less
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  ;  ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract

    Four closely located satellites at and inside geosynchronous orbit (GEO) provided a great opportunity to study the dynamical evolution and spatial scale of premidnight energetic particle injections inside GEO during a moderate substorm on 23 December 2016. Just following the substorm onset, the four spacecraft, a LANL satellite at GEO, the two Van Allen Probes (also called “RBSP”) at ~5.8RE, and a THEMIS satellite at ~5.3RE, observed substorm‐related particle injections and local dipolarizations near the central meridian (~22 MLT) of a wedge‐like current system. The large‐scale evolution of the electron and ion (H, He, and O) injections was almost identical at the two RBSP spacecraft with ~0.5REapart. However, the initial short‐timescale particle injections exhibited a striking difference between RBSP‐A and ‐B: RBSP‐B observed an energy dispersionless injection which occurred concurrently with a transient, strong dipolarization front (DF) with a peak‐to‐peak amplitude of ~25 nT over ~25 s; RBSP‐A measured a dispersed/weaker injection with no corresponding DF. The spatiotemporally localized DF was accompanied by an impulsive, westward electric field (~20 mV m−1). The fast, impulsiveE × Bdrift caused the radial transport of the electron and ion injection regions from GEO to ~5.8RE. The penetrating DF fields significantly altered the rapid energy‐ and pitch angle‐dependent flux changes of the electrons and the H and He ions inside GEO. Such flux distributions could reflect the transient DF‐related particle acceleration and/or transport processes occurring inside GEO. In contrast, O ions were little affected by the DF fields.

    more » « less
  2. null (Ed.)
    Abstract The Electron Loss and Fields Investigation with a Spatio-Temporal Ambiguity-Resolving option (ELFIN-STAR, or heretoforth simply: ELFIN) mission comprises two identical 3-Unit (3U) CubeSats on a polar (∼93 ∘ inclination), nearly circular, low-Earth (∼450 km altitude) orbit. Launched on September 15, 2018, ELFIN is expected to have a >2.5 year lifetime. Its primary science objective is to resolve the mechanism of storm-time relativistic electron precipitation, for which electromagnetic ion cyclotron (EMIC) waves are a prime candidate. From its ionospheric vantage point, ELFIN uses its unique pitch-angle-resolving capability to determine whether measured relativistic electron pitch-angle and energy spectra within the loss cone bear the characteristic signatures of scattering by EMIC waves or whether such scattering may be due to other processes. Pairing identical ELFIN satellites with slowly-variable along-track separation allows disambiguation of spatial and temporal evolution of the precipitation over minutes-to-tens-of-minutes timescales, faster than the orbit period of a single low-altitude satellite (T orbit ∼ 90 min). Each satellite carries an energetic particle detector for electrons (EPDE) that measures 50 keV to 5 MeV electrons with $\Delta $ Δ E/E < 40% and a fluxgate magnetometer (FGM) on a ∼72 cm boom that measures magnetic field waves (e.g., EMIC waves) in the range from DC to 5 Hz Nyquist (nominally) with <0.3 nT/sqrt(Hz) noise at 1 Hz. The spinning satellites (T spin $\,\sim $ ∼ 3 s) are equipped with magnetorquers (air coils) that permit spin-up or -down and reorientation maneuvers. Using those, the spin axis is placed normal to the orbit plane (nominally), allowing full pitch-angle resolution twice per spin. An energetic particle detector for ions (EPDI) measures 250 keV – 5 MeV ions, addressing secondary science. Funded initially by CalSpace and the University Nanosat Program, ELFIN was selected for flight with joint support from NSF and NASA between 2014 and 2018 and launched by the ELaNa XVIII program on a Delta II rocket (with IceSatII as the primary). Mission operations are currently funded by NASA. Working under experienced UCLA mentors, with advice from The Aerospace Corporation and NASA personnel, more than 250 undergraduates have matured the ELFIN implementation strategy; developed the instruments, satellite, and ground systems and operate the two satellites. ELFIN’s already high potential for cutting-edge science return is compounded by concurrent equatorial Heliophysics missions (THEMIS, Arase, Van Allen Probes, MMS) and ground stations. ELFIN’s integrated data analysis approach, rapid dissemination strategies via the SPace Environment Data Analysis System (SPEDAS), and data coordination with the Heliophysics/Geospace System Observatory (H/GSO) optimize science yield, enabling the widest community benefits. Several storm-time events have already been captured and are presented herein to demonstrate ELFIN’s data analysis methods and potential. These form the basis of on-going studies to resolve the primary mission science objective. Broad energy precipitation events, precipitation bands, and microbursts, clearly seen both at dawn and dusk, extend from tens of keV to >1 MeV. This broad energy range of precipitation indicates that multiple waves are providing scattering concurrently. Many observed events show significant backscattered fluxes, which in the past were hard to resolve by equatorial spacecraft or non-pitch-angle-resolving ionospheric missions. These observations suggest that the ionosphere plays a significant role in modifying magnetospheric electron fluxes and wave-particle interactions. Routine data captures starting in February 2020 and lasting for at least another year, approximately the remainder of the mission lifetime, are expected to provide a very rich dataset to address questions even beyond the primary mission science objective. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract

    The magnetospheric substorm is a key mode of flux and energy transport throughout the magnetosphere associated with distinct and repeatable magnetotail dynamical processes and plasma injections. The substorm growth phase is characterized by current sheet thinning and magnetic field reconfiguration around the equatorial plane. The global characteristics of current sheet thinning are important for understanding of magnetotail state right before the onset of magnetic reconnection and of the key substorm expansion phase. In this paper, we investigate this thinning at different radial distances using plasma sheet (PS) energetic (>50 keV) electrons that reach from the equator to low altitudes during their fast (∼1 s) travel along magnetic field lines. We perform a multi‐case study and a statistical analysis of 34 events with near‐equatorial observations of the current sheet thinning by equatorial missions and concurrent, latitudinal crossings of the ionospheric projection of the magnetotail by the low‐altitude Electron Losses and Fields Investigation (ELFIN) CubeSats at approximately the same local time sector. Energetic electron fluxes thus collected by ELFIN provide near‐instantaneous (<5 min duration) radial snapshots of magnetotail fluxes. Main findings of this study confirm the previously proposed concepts with low‐altitude energetic electron measurements: (a) Energy distributions of low‐altitude fluxes are quantitatively close to the near‐equatorial distributions, which justifies the investigation of the magnetotail current sheet reconfiguration using low‐altitude measurements. (b) The magnetic field reconfiguration during the current sheet thinning (which lasts ≥ an hour) results in a rapid shrinking of the low‐altitude projection of the entire PS (from near‐Earth, ∼10RE, to the lunar orbit ∼60RE) to 1–2° of magnetic latitude in the ionosphere. (c) The current sheet dipolarization, common during the substorm onset, is associated with a very quick (∼10 min) change of the tail magnetic field configuration to its dipolar state, as implied by a poleward expansion of the PSPS at low altitudes.

    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    To understand magnetosphere‐ionosphere conditions that result in thermal emission velocity enhancement (STEVE) and subauroral ion drifts (SAID) during the substorm recovery phase, we present substorm aurora, particle injection, and current systems during two STEVE events. Those events are compared to substorm events with similar strength but without STEVE. We found that the substorm surge and intense upward currents for the events with STEVE reach the dusk, while those for the non‐STEVE substorms are localized around midnight. The Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) satellite observations show that location of particle injection and fast plasma sheet flows for the STEVE events also shifts duskward. Electron injection is stronger and ion injection is weaker for the STEVE events compared to the non‐STEVE events. SAID are measured by Super Dual Auroral Radar Network during the STEVE events, but the non‐STEVE events only showed latitudinally wide subauroral polarization streams without SAID. To interpret the observations, Rice Convection Model (RCM) simulations with injection at premidnight and midnight have been conducted. The simulations successfully explain the stronger electron injection, weaker ion injection, and formation of SAID for injection at premidnight, because injected electrons reach the premidnight inner magnetosphere and form a narrower separation between the ion and electron inner boundaries. We suggest that substorms and particle injections extending far duskward away from midnight offer a condition for creating STEVE and SAID due to stronger electron injection to premidnight. The THEMIS all‐sky imager network identified the east‐west length of the STEVE arc to be ~1900 km (~2.5 h magnetic local time) and the duration to be 1–1.5 h.

    more » « less
  5. Abstract

    We extend our database of whistler mode chorus, based on data from seven satellites, by including ∼3 years of data from Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP)‐A and RBSP‐B and an additional ∼6 years of data from Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS)‐A, THEMIS‐D, and THEMIS‐E. The new database allows us to probe the near‐equatorial region in detail, revealing new features. In the equatorial source region, |λm|<6°, strong wave power is most extensive in the 0.1–0.4fcebands in the region 21–11 magnetic local time (MLT) from the plasmapause out toL = 8 and beyond, especially near dawn. At higher frequencies, in the 0.4–0.6fcefrequency bands, strong wave power is more tightly confined, typically being restricted to the postmidnight sector in the region 4<L<6. The global distribution of strong chorus wave power changes dramatically with increasing magnetic latitude, with strong chorus waves in the region 12<|λm|<18° predominantly observed at frequencies below 0.3fcein the prenoon sector, in the region 5<L<8.

    more » « less