Articles | Volume 23, issue 4
Ann. Geophys., 23, 1281–1294, 2005
Ann. Geophys., 23, 1281–1294, 2005

  03 Jun 2005

03 Jun 2005

Survey of energetic O+ ions near the dayside mid-latitude magnetopause with Cluster

M. Bouhram1,*, B. Klecker1, G. Paschmann1, S. Haaland1, H. Hasegawa2, A. Blagau3,1, H. Rème4, J.-A. Sauvaud4, L. M. Kistler5, and A. Balogh6 M. Bouhram et al.
  • 1Max-Planck-Institut f¨ur extraterrestrische Physik, D-85741 Garching, Germany
  • 2Thayer school of engineering, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH03755, USA
  • 3Space Science Institute, R-76911 Bucharest, Romania
  • 4CESR-CNRS, BP-4346, F-31028 Toulouse Cedex 04, France
  • 5Space Science Center, University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH03824, USA
  • 6Imperial College, London SW7 2AZ, UK
  • *now at: CETP-CNRS, 4 Avenue de Neptune, F-94100 Saint-Maur, France

Abstract. Since December 2000, the Cluster satellites have been conducting detailed measurements of the magnetospheric boundaries and have confirmed the unambiguous presence of ions of terrestrial origin (e.g. O+ in regions adjacent to the dayside, mid-latitude magnetopause. In the present paper, we focus on the statistical properties of the O+ ion component at energies ranging from 30eV up to 40keV, using three years of ion data at solar maximum from the Cluster Ion Spectrometry (CIS) experiment aboard two Cluster spacecraft. The O+ density decreases on average by a factor of 6, from 0.041 to 7x10-3cm-3 when crossing the magnetopause from the magnetosphere to the magnetosheath, but depends on several parameters, such as the geomagnetic activity or the modified disturbed storm time index (Dst*), and on their location. The O+ density is significantly higher in the dusk-side than in the dawn side region, which is consistent with the view that they originate mainly from the plasma sheet. A remarkable finding is that inward of the magnetopause, O+ is the dominant contributor to the mass density 30% of the time on the dusk-side in comparison to 3% in the dawnside and 4% near noon. On an event basis in the dusk flank of the magnetopause, we point out that O+ ions, when dominating the mass composition, lower the threshold for generating the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, which may allow plasma exchange between the magnetosheath and the plasma sheet. We also discuss the effect of a substantial O+ ion component when present in a reconnection region.