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Annales Geophysicae


Department of Physics and Astronomy


For two events observed by the CLUSTER space- craft, the field line distribution of mass density ρ was inferred from Alfve ́n wave harmonic frequencies and compared to the electron density ne from plasma wave data and the oxy- gen density nO+ from the ion composition experiment. In one case, the average ion mass M≡ρ/ne was about 5amu (28 October 2002), while in the other it was about 3 amu (10 September 2002). Both events occurred when the CLUSTER 1 (C1) spacecraft was in the plasmatrough. Nevertheless, the electron density ne was significantly lower for the first event (ne =8 cm−3 ) than for the second event (ne =22 cm−3 ), and this seems to be the main difference leading to a dif- ferent value of M. For the first event (28 October 2002), we were able to measure the Alfve ́n wave frequencies for eight harmonics with unprecedented precision, so that the er- ror in the inferred mass density is probably dominated by factors other than the uncertainty in frequency (e.g., mag- netic field model and theoretical wave equation). This field line distribution (at L=4.8) was very flat for magnetic lati- tude |MLAT|􏰂20◦ but very steeply increasing with respect to |MLAT| for |MLAT|􏰁40◦. The total variation in ρ was about four orders of magnitude, with values at large |MLAT| roughly consistent with ionospheric values. For the second event (10 September 2002), there was a small local maxi- mum in mass density near the magnetic equator. The in-

ferred mass density decreases to a minimum 23% lower than the equatorial value at |MLAT|=15.5◦, and then steeply in- creases as one moves along the field line toward the iono- sphere. For this event we were also able to examine the spa- tial dependence of the electron density using measurements of ne from all four CLUSTER spacecraft. Our analysis in- dicates that the density varies with L at L∼5 roughly like L−4, and that ne is also locally peaked at the magnetic equa- tor, but with a smaller peak. The value of ne reaches a den- sity minimum about 6% lower than the equatorial value at |MLAT|=12.5◦, and then increases steeply at larger values of |MLAT|. This is to our knowledge the first evidence for a local peak in bulk electron density at the magnetic equa- tor. Our results show that magnetoseismology can be a useful technique to determine the field line distribution of the mass density for CLUSTER at perigee and that the distribution of electron density can also be inferred from measurements by multiple spacecraft.



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