ELECTRODYNAMICS OF AN ION INVERTED V
BURGESS, GEORGETTE OLIVE
Doctor of Philosophy
Particle precipitation around the earth's polar regions may be the footprint of various energizing phenomena in the magnetosphere. Satellite-observed electron fluxes whose peak energy increases then decreases are called inverted V's. The Atmosphere Explorer-D Low Energy Electron (LEE) data for January 11, 1976 indicates that the precipitating ions have been accelerated. In this event the spectrograms of the ion flux shows the change of the peak energy with time characteristic of an inverted V. The electron population is decelerated as the ion population is accelerated, consistent with a downward electric field. The Birkeland current at an inverted V may be calculated in two ways: from the divergence of the electric field or from the observed particle fluxes. We found that the two methods agree on the location of Birkeland current throughout the event, but the magnitudes are not the same. This is not surprising, since the component of (DEL)((')(SIGMA)(.)(')E) perpendicular to the trajectory can not be determined. The electric potential along the spacecraft's trajectory (790-650 km altitude) was calculated from the measured electric fields. The sum of the parallel potential drop (inferred from the ion distribution function) and the ionospheric potential gives the potential profile at the magnetosphere. The parallel electric field thus partially decoupled the ionospheric flow from the magnetospheric flow. The electric field pattern in the magnetosphere-ionosphere system demands field-aligned currents. When the thermal current is insufficient, a field-aligned potential drop can accelerate particles to satisfy the requirements. The thermal electron current from the ionosphere is much greater than that from the magnetosphere. Thus, it is more common to observe the signatures of an upward electric field: the electron "inverted V". In the ion inverted V observed during AE-D orbit 1141, the postulated parallel potential has reduced the required parallel current. This high potential had to develop because the required amount of downward current would have quickly evacuated the ionospheric electrons available to supply the original requirement of a downward current.