Determination of interstellar pickup ion distributions in the solar wind with SOHO and Cluster
Abstract. Over the last 10 years, the experimental basis for the study of the local interstellar medium has been substantially enhanced by the direct detection of interstellar pickup ions and of interstellar neutral helium within the heliosphere. Pickup ions can be studied for a wide range of interstellar species. However, currently the accuracy of the method to determine the parameters of the interstellar medium, namely neutral density, temperature and relative velocity, is hampered by two problems: (1) In most cases the crucial ionization rates are not available from simultaneous measurements and (2) the transport of the pickup ions in the interplanetary medium substantially modifies the measured spatial distribution of the ions. In this study we will discuss how the enhanced capabilities of the instrumentation on SOHO and Cluster in combination with ongoing efforts to model the pickup ion distributions will lead to a significant improvement over the coming years.