Links between the plasmapause and the radiation belt boundaries as observed by the instruments CIS, RAPID, and WHISPER onboard Cluster
De Keyser, J.
Earth and related Environmental sciences
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In the present work, we study the relations between the position of the plasmapause and the position of the radiation belt boundaries. The Cluster mission offers the exceptional opportunity to analyze those different regions of the inner magnetosphere with identical sensors on multiple spacecraft. We compare the positions of the radiation belt edges deduced from CIS (Cluster Ion Spectrometry) observations (electrons with energy >2 MeV) with the positions of the plasmapause derived from WHISPER (Waves of HIgh frequency and Sounder for Probing of the Electron density by Relaxation) data (electron plasma frequency). In addition, we compare those results with the edges positions determined from RAPID (Research with Adaptive Particle Imaging Detectors) observations (electrons with energy between 244.1 and 406.5keV). The period of 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2009 has been chosen for the analysis because at that time Cluster's perigee was located at lower radial distances than during the earlier part of the mission. The perigee was then as close as 2 RE, deep inside the plasmasphere and the radiation belts. This time period corresponds to a long solar activity minimum. Differences are observed between the radiation belt boundary positions obtained from the two different instruments: The radiation belt positions are related to the energy bands. The results show that the plasmapause position is more variable than the radiation belt boundary positions, especially during small geomagnetic activity enhancements. A correspondence is observed between the plasmapause position determined by WHISPER and the outer edge of the outer radiation belt of energetic electrons (>2 MeV) observed by CIS. This result is unexpected since previous studies based on other spacecraft observations indicated a correlation between the inner edge of the outer belt and the plasmapause. However, during higher geomagnetic activity time periods, the plasmapause is located closer to the inner boundary of the outer radiation belt. Also, the thickness of the slot region is found to follow the global evolution of the geomagnetic activity.
CitationDarrouzet, F.; Pierrard, V.; Benck, S.; Lointier, G.; Cabrera, J.; Borremans, K.; Ganushkina, N.Y.; De Keyser, J. (2013). Links between the plasmapause and the radiation belt boundaries as observed by the instruments CIS, RAPID, and WHISPER onboard Cluster. , Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, Vol. 118, Issue 7, 4176-4188, DOI: 10.1002/jgra.50239.