The INTERBALL-Tail ELECTRON experiment: initial results on the low-latitude boundary layer of the dawn magnetosphere
- 1Centre d'Etude Spatiale des Rayonnements, BP4346, F-31029, Toulouse, France
- 2Space Research Institute, Profsoyuznaya 84/32, Moscow, Russia
Abstract. The Toulouse electron spectrometer flown on the Russian project INTERBALL-Tail performs electron measurements from 10 to 26 000 eV over a 4<pi> solid angle in a satellite rotation period. The INTERBALL-Tail probe was launched on 3 August 1995 together with a subsatellite into a 65° inclination orbit with an apogee of about 30 RE. The INTERBALL mission also includes a polar spacecraft launched in August 1996 for correlated studies of the outer magnetosphere and of the auroral regions. We present new observations concerning the low-latitude boundary layers (LLBL) of the magnetosphere obtained near the dawn magnetic meridian. LLBL are encountered at the interface between two plasma regimes, the magnetosheath and the dayside extension of the plasma sheet. Unexpectedly, the radial extent of the region where LLBL electrons can be sporadically detected as plasma clouds can reach up to 5 RE inside the magnetopause. The LLBL core electrons have an average energy of the order of 100 eV and are systematically field-aligned and counterstreaming. As a trend, the temperature of the LLBL electrons increases with decreasing distance to Earth. Along the satellite orbit, the apparent time of occurrence of LLBL electrons can vary from about 5 to 20 min from one pass to another. An initial first comparison between electron- and magnetic-field measurements indicates that the LLBL clouds coincide with a strong increase in the magnetic field (by up to a factor of 2). The resulting strong magnetic field gradient can explain why the plasma-sheet electron flux in the keV range is strongly depressed in LLBL occurrence regions (up to a factor of \sim10). We also show that LLBL electron encounters are related to field-aligned current structures and that wide LLBL correspond to northward interplanetary magnetic field. Evidence for LLBL/plasma-sheet electron leakage into the magnetosheath during southward IMF is also presented.