Articles | Volume 22, issue 7
14 Jul 2004
 | 14 Jul 2004

Multipoint analysis of the spatio-temporal coherence of dayside O+ outflows with Cluster

M. Bouhram, B. Klecker, G. Paschmann, H. Rème, A. Blăgău, L. Kistler, P. Puhl-Quinn, and J.-A. Sauvaud

Abstract. The spatial distribution of ionospheric ion outflow from the dayside cusp/cleft has previously been studied in great detail with numerous satellite missions, but only statistically. Between July and November 2001, the orbit configuration of the Cluster multi-satellite system close to its perigee (4 Earth radii) allows for delay times between spacecraft of about 4 and 35min in crossing the cusp/cleft. This enables for the first time to assess the spatial and temporal coherence of O+ ion outflow on time scales of the order of the satellite time lag. After presenting two contrasting events in detail, O+ velocities and outflow intensities from three spacecraft, available on 18 events, all with a similar orbit, have been cross-correlated to quantify the degree of coherence in the outflow. The main result from the analysis is that, although dayside outflows are a permanent feature, steady-state conditions are surprisingly never achieved. In particular, a significant variability is found for convection drift and local outflow intensities on small time scales. This variability of local intensities is not found to depend on the total strenghth of the outflow, which is much more stable and increases with the dynamic solar wind pressure.