Plasma density characteristics of magnetic holes near the Kronian magnetosphere boundary surfaces

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för fysik och astronomi

Abstract: Localized structures of the magnetic field strength depression are often observed in the interplanetarymedium, and they are called ‘magnetic holes’ after the original work of Turner et al. 1977. A numberof observations of similar features have been reported, while the mechanisms of their origin have notfully understood yet. The scale size of their structures varies from several to a few thousand of the protongyro radii, and their characteristic orientations of the magnetic field also vary, and therefore differenttypes of the magnetic holes have been suggested. To date, the magnetic holes are classified into Mirrormode and magnetic decreases (Tsurutani et al. 2011). Despite a large number of papers that report theobservational characteristics of the magnetic holes, many identify the feature using only the magneticfield data. This is due to the scale size of the structure at a large speed of the solar wind medium, thespatial resolution of the plasma instruments is often insufficient while the magnetic field instrument canusually obtain the data in high enough time resolution.The Cassini spacecraft orbited Saturn for almost 17 years and obtained a large amount of data in/near theKronian magnetosphere, where the series of the magnetic depletions have been also observed (Smith et al.1980). The Langmuir Probe (LP) onboard Cassini measures the spacecraft potential and, in turn, measuresthe electron density in in-situ in the outer magnetosphere and solar wind region. This measurement hasbeen done using the LP sweep mode which samples the current-voltage curve of the probe every 10 minin the outer magnetosphere. The LP has also been operated in the continuous mode that measures theprobe current at a fixed bias potential every 16 s allowing to calculate the electron density in a smallerscale that is required for the studies magnetic holes. However, there is no general calibration so far inorder to conduct a statistical study in the outer magnetosphere region. The goal of this project is toinvestigate the possibility to use the LP data for the magnetic hole study, calibrate the LP continuousmode to derive the plasma density near the magnetospheric of Saturn, and investigate the scale size of theplasma density structure in the magnetic holes, i. e. plasma β, the field strength and density.The calibration of the continuous data was done by finding a relation between the current at 11 V, whichis a typical bias voltage of continuous mode, and the spacecraft potential obtained by the LP the sweepmode data. Is is expected that the current at 11V is linearly proportional to the floating potential andtherefore can be used to derive the electron density with the potential and density relationship presentedby Morooka et al. 2009. I found that the spacecraft attitude against the sun has a strong effect on therelation, and derived 11V current-floating potential relationship depending on the different spacecraftattitude.Using the LP continuous data calibration above, I investigated the electron density characteristics aroundthe magnetic hold structure, and confirmed that they are generally in anticorrelation relationship. I estim-ated also the plasma β assuming a constant temperature of 100 eV and investigated their characteristicsfor the different types of magnetic holes (linear and rotational holes) both in the magnetosheath and theholes in the solar wind for the year 2011. For the Cassini dataset during 2011, various different shapeand sizes of magnetic hole events have been found. Most (80%) of the MHs appeared within a groupedstructure, while the rest (20%) are found as isolated type holes in the magnetosheath. Among the isolatedMHs, about 30% had "Gaussian shape" and about 40% had a substructure. The scale size for the electrondensity for the isolated holes were on average 50 s in the solar wind, and 75 s (the rotational holes) and120 s (the linear holes) in the magnetosheath. Therefore, I confirmed that the LP can obtain enough datapoints to resolve the magnetic holes structure in the magnetosheath. The Cassini LP data resolution isalso capable to resolve some of the magnetic hole structure in the solar wind.In summary, I confirmed that the Cassini LP continuous data calibrated in this study is capable toinvestigate the different types of magnetic hole structures. Using this calibrated electron data statisticallyfor the large number of Cassini orbit would helpful to further identify the MHs structures in the solar wind and the magnetosheath that can be a key to understand the generation mechanisms of the magneticholes.

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