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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • auroral acceleration
  • multispacecraft
  • Cluster
  • currents
  • plasma
  • magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling

Index Terms

  • 2704 Magnetospheric Physics: Auroral phenomena
  • 7846 Space Plasma Physics: Plasma energization
  • 7807 Space Plasma Physics: Charged particle motion and acceleration
  • 7894 Space Plasma Physics: Instruments and techniques



Multispacecraft Observations of Auroral Acceleration by Cluster

C. Forsyth and A. N. Fazakerley

The electric fields in the auroral acceleration region (AAR) accelerate ionospheric and magnetospheric particles to supra-keV energies above the aurora and are highly structured and temporally variable. While single-spacecraft missions have been a key to understanding a number of aspects of the microphysics of this region, they are fundamentally unable to deconvolve spatial and temporal variations. In 2008, the Cluster spacecraft became the first multispacecraft mission to study the AAR at separations of the order of 1000 km. We review recent observations by Cluster in the AAR, which show that Alfvénic acceleration regions can be either colocated with quasi-static potential drops or evolve into them, the growth of quasi-static drops occurs at low altitudes, and 20% of the total potential drop can be located inside the AAR away from the upper and lower boundaries.

Citation: Forsyth, C., and A. N. Fazakerley (2012), Multispacecraft observations of auroral acceleration by Cluster, in Auroral Phenomenology and Magnetospheric Processes: Earth and Other Planets, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 197, edited by A. Keiling et al. 261–270, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2011GM001166.

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