Neutral Gas and Plasma Interactions in the Polar Cusp
Olson, David K.
Moore, Thomas E.
Coplan, Michael A.
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When the solar wind interacts with the Earth's magnetosphere, both energy and matter can be transferred across the magnetopause boundary. This transfer gives rise to numerous phenomena, including ion outflow and neutral upwelling in the polar cusps. These processes are caused by a transfer of energy to the ionospheric plasma and neutral gas through various mechanisms. The heated plasma or gas expands, increasing the density of the atmosphere at high altitudes by as much as a factor of two, and injecting ionospheric plasma into and even outside of the magnetosphere. These two phenomena are examined in two ways: A novel high energy (0.1--10 keV) spectrograph for ionospheric cusp ions was designed as part of the Rocket Experiment for Neutral Upwelling (RENU), a sounding rocket campaign carried out at the northern polar cusp to observe the electrodynamic properties of the cusp during a neutral upwelling event. This instrument is called the KeV Ion Magnetic Spectrograph (KIMS). Ion outflow in the ionosphere has shown evidence of correlation with both Poynting flux and soft electron precipitation in the cusp. The heat input from these energy sources might also affect neutral gas in the ionosphere, contributing to upwelling phenomena seen at the dayside cusp. Using data from the Fast Auroral Snapshot Explorer (FAST) and the Challenging Minisatellite Payload (CHAMP) satellites, correlations of electromagnetic and particle energy inputs are examined with both ion outflow and neutral upwelling in the cusp. The added ability to process large quantities of data quickly and reference the data between separate satellites in this statistical survey gives clues to the consistency of the observed correlations with ion outflow over time and to the relative importance of these energy sources in the neutral upwelling phenomenon. It also provides the ability to understand these connections in a broad spectrum of conditions of the Sun and solar wind as well as in the Earth's magnetosphere.