Articles | Volume 20, issue 3
Special issue:
31 Mar 2002
 | 31 Mar 2002

Cusp-like plasma in high altitudes: a statistical study of the width and location of the cusp from Magion-4

J. Mĕrka, J. Šafránková, and Z. Nĕmeček

Abstract. The width of the cusp region is an indicator of the strength of the merging process and the degree of opening of the magnetosphere. During three years, the Magion-4 satellite, as part of the Interball project, has collected a unique data set of cusp-like plasma observations in middle and high altitudes. For a comparison of high- and low-altitude cusp determination, we map our observations of cusp-like plasma along the magnetic field lines down to the Earth’s surface. We use the Tsyganenko and Stern 1996 model of the magnetospheric magnetic field for the mapping, taking actual solar wind and IMF parameters from the Wind observations. The footprint positions show substantial latitudinal dependence on the dipole tilt angle. We fit this dependence with a linear function and subtract this function from observed cusp position. This process allows us to study both statistical width and location of the inspected region as a function of the solar wind and IMF parameters. Our processing of the Magion-4 measurements shows that high-altitude regions occupied by the cusp-like plasma (cusp and cleft) are projected onto a much broader area (in magnetic local time as well as in a latitude) than that determined in low altitudes. The trends of the shift of the cusp position with changes in the IMF direction established by low-altitude observations have been confirmed.

Key words. Magnetospheric physics (magnetopause, cusp and boundary layer; solar wind – magnetosphere interactions)

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