Articles | Volume 18, issue 2
29 Feb 2000
29 Feb 2000

Characteristics of a stable arc based on FAST and MIRACLE observations

P. Janhunen, A. Olsson, O. Amm, and K. Kauristie

Abstract. A stable evening sector arc is studied using observations from the FAST satellite at 1250 km altitude and the MIRACLE ground-based network, which contains all-sky cameras, coherent radars (STARE), and magnetometers. Both FAST and STARE observe a northward electric field region of about 200 km width and a field magnitude of about 50 mV/m southward of the arc, which is a typical signature for an evening-sector arc. The field-aligned current determined from FAST electron and magnetometer data are in rather good agreement within the arcs. Outside the arcs, the electron data misses the current carriers of the downward FAC probably because it is mainly carried by electrons of smaller energy than the instrument threshold. Studying the westward propagation speed of small undulations associated with the arc using the all-sky cameras gives a velocity of about 2 km/s. This speed is higher than the background ionospheric plasma speed (about 1 km/s), but it agrees rather well with the idea originally proposed by Davis that the undulations reflect an E × B motion in the acceleration region. The ground magnetograms indicate that the main current flows slightly south of the arc. Computing the ionospheric conductivity from FAST electron data and using the ground magnetograms to estimate the current yields an ionospheric electric field pattern, in rather good agreement with FAST results.

Key words: Ionosphere (auroral ionosphere; ionosphere-magnetosphere interactions) - Magnetospheric physics (auroral phenomena)