Sounding Rocket Experiments to Investigate Thermal Electron Heating in the Sq Current Focus
Abstract:Sounding rocket observations in the southern part of Japan suggest that the electron temperature profile occasionally exhibits the local increase by several hundred K at 100-110 km altitudes at 1100-1200 LT in winter. Detailed study of the temperature profiles indicates that such an increase is closely related to the existence of Sq current focus, because it becomes more significant when the measurement is made near the center of Sq focus. In order to understand a general feature of this unusual phenomena occurring in the Sq current focus, the sounding rocket experiment was conducted in Uchinoura of Japan.
In this experiment, we launched “S-310-37” rocket equipped with a total of eight science instruments at 11:20 JST on January 16, 2007 after being convinced that the Sq current was approaching to the planned rocket trajectory. The geomagnetic activity had been successively quiet on that day so that we can estimate the position of Sq current focus.
Our analysis of the obtained data indicates that the electron temperature was certainly increased by about 500-600 K at the altitude of 97-101 km with respect to the background. Strong electron density perturbation was also observed to exist above 97 km altitude, which corresponds to the lower boundary of the high electron temperatures. It is also noticeable that both the electric field and magnetic field data include unusual variation in the same altitude region as the temperature increase was observed, suggesting a possible connection between the thermal electron heating and variation of the electric and/or magnetic field.
Thus, the first experiment in 2007 revealed a general feature of such unusual phenomena in the Sq current focus, and thereby our interest to the generation mechanism for increasing the electron temperature was more and more increased. We will conduct the second rocket experiment to investigate such unusual phenomena in the Sq current focus in January 2016. In this experiment, we will try to measure plasma wave from 300 Hz to 22 MHz to discuss the existence of plasma instability. Accurate measurement of the electric and magnetic fields as well as electron temperature and density, energy distribution of thermal electrons will be also made. We try to elucidate causes and consequences of such mysterious phenomena existing in the Sq current focus.