Articles | Volume 17, issue 12
Special issue:
31 Dec 1999
31 Dec 1999

Dynamics and local boundary properties of the dawn-side magnetopause under conditions observed by Equator-S

M. W. Dunlop, A. Balogh, W. Baumjohann, G. Haerendel, K.-H. Fornacon, E. Georgescu, R. Nakamura, and S. Kokubin

Abstract. Magnetic field measurements, taken by the magnetometer experiment (MAM) on board the German Equator-S spacecraft, have been used to identify and categorise 131 crossings of the dawn-side magnetopause at low latitude, providing unusual, long duration coverage of the adjacent magnetospheric regions and near magnetosheath. The crossings occurred on 31 orbits, providing unbiased coverage over the full range of local magnetic shear from 06:00 to 10:40 LT. Apogee extent places the spacecraft in conditions associated with intermediate, rather than low, solar wind dynamic pressure, as it processes into the flank region. The apogee of the spacecraft remains close to the magnetopause for mean solar wind pressure. The occurrence of the magnetopause encounters are summarised and are found to compare well with predicted boundary location, where solar wind conditions are known. Most scale with solar wind pressure. Magnetopause shape is also documented and we find that the magnetopause orientation is consistently sunward of a model boundary and is not accounted for by IMF or local magnetic shear conditions. A number of well-established crossings, particularly those at high magnetic shear, or exhibiting unusually high-pressure states, were observed and have been analysed for their boundary characteristics and some details of their boundary and near magnetosheath properties are discussed. Of particular note are the occurrence of mirror-like signatures in the adjacent magnetosheath during a significant fraction of the encounters and a high number of multiple crossings over a long time period. The latter is facilitated by the spacecraft orbit which is designed to remain in the near magnetosheath for average solar wind pressure. For most encounters, a well-ordered, tangential (draped) magnetosheath field is observed and there is little evidence of large deviations in local boundary orientations. Two passes corresponding to close conjunctions of the Geotail spacecraft are analysed to confirm boundary orientation and motion. These further show evidence of an anti-sunward moving depression on the magnetopause (which is much smaller at Equator-S). The Tsyganenko model field is used routinely to assist in categorising the crossings and some comparison of models is carried out. We note that typically the T87 model fits the data better than the T89 model during conditions of low to intermediate KP index near the magnetopause and also near the dawn-side tail current sheet in the dawnside region.

Key words. Magnetospheric physics (magnetopause · cusp · and boundary layers; magnetosheath; magneto- spheric configuration and dynamics).

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