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Solar wind dependence of ion parameters in the earth's magnetospheric region calculated from CLUSTER observations

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date26/03/2008
JournalAnnales Geophysicae
Number of pages8
Original languageEnglish


Moments calculated from the ion distributions (~0–40 keV) measured by the Cluster Ion Spectrometry (CIS) instrument are combined with data from the Cluster Flux Gate Magnetometer (FGM) instrument and used to characterise the bulk properties of the plasma in the near-Earth magnetosphere over five years (2001–2005). Results are presented in the form of 2-D xy, xz and yz GSM cuts through the magnetosphere using data obtained from the Cluster Science Data System (CSDS) and the Cluster Active Archive (CAA). Analysis reveals the distribution of ~0–40 keV ions in the inner magnetosphere is highly ordered and highly responsive to changes in solar wind velocity. Specifically, elevations in temperature are found to occur across the entire nightside plasma sheet region during times of fast solar wind. We demonstrate that the nightside plasma sheet ion temperature at a downtail distance of ~12 to 19 Earth radii increases by a factor of ~2 during periods of fast solar wind (500–1000 km s−1) compared to periods of slow solar wind (100–400 km s−1). The spatial extent of these increases are shown in the xy, xz and yz GSM planes. The results from the study have implications for modelling studies and simulations of solar-wind/magnetosphere coupling, which ultimately rely on in situ observations of the plasma sheet properties for input/boundary conditions.