Ion Spectral Structures Observed by the Van Allen Probes and Cluster

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Cristian Ferradas1, Jichun Zhang1, Hao Luo1,2, Lynn M Kistler1, Harlan E. Spence1, Brian Larsen3, Ruth M Skoug3, Herbert O Funsten3 and Geoffrey D Reeves3, (1)University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, United States, (2)Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China, (3)Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, United States
During the last decades several missions have recorded the presence of dynamic spectral features of energetic ions in the inner magnetosphere. Previous studies have revealed single “nose-like” structures occurring alone and simultaneous nose-like structures (up to three). In this study we also include signatures of new types of ion structure, namely “trunk-like” and “tusk-like” structures. All the ion structures are named after the characteristic shapes of energy bands or gaps in the energy-time spectrograms of in situ measured ion fluxes. They constitute the observational signatures of ion acceleration, transport, and loss in the global magnetosphere. Multi-spacecraft analysis of these structures is important to understand their spatial distribution and temporal evolution. Mass spectrometers onboard Cluster (in a polar orbit) and the Van Allen Probes (in an equatorial orbit) measure energetic hydrogen, helium, and oxygen ions near the inner edge of the plasma sheet, where these ion structures are observed. We present a statistical study of the ion structures, using >1-year measurements from the two missions during the Van Allen Probes era. The results provide important details about the spatial distribution (dependence on geocentric distance and magnetic local time), spectral features of the structures (e.g., characteristic energy and differences among species), and geomagnetic and solar wind conditions under which these structures occur.