Articles | Volume 23, issue 7
14 Oct 2005
 | 14 Oct 2005

Cluster observations of bounday layer structure and a flux transfer event near the cusp

R. C. Fear, A. N. Fazakerley, C. J. Owen, A. D. Lahiff, E. A. Lucek, A. Balogh, L. M. Kistler, C. Mouikis, and H. Rème

Abstract. On the 25th January 2002 between 10:00 and 12:00 UT, the four Cluster spacecraft passed through the northern high-latitude cusp, the dayside magnetosphere and into the magnetosheath in a linear formation. In the magnetosphere the PEACE electron spectrometers on the four spacecraft all observed a series of transient bursts of magnetosheath-like plasma, but without bipolar magnetic signatures in the magnetopause normal component as might be expected if the plasma had been injected by transient reconnection (flux transfer events – FTEs). Reordering the data using the magnetopause transition parameter reveals that these plasma observations, the related variations in the magnetic field and the balance of magnetic and thermal gas pressures are consistent with transient entries into a stable high-latitude boundary layer structure. However, once some of the spacecraft entered the magnetosheath, FTE signatures were observed outside the magnetopause at the same time as some of the boundary layer entries occurred at the other spacecraft inside. Thus, (a) the lack of a bipolar BN signature is inconsistent with the traditional picture of a magnetospheric FTE, and (b) the cause of the observed entry of the spacecraft into the boundary layer (pressure pulse or passing magnetosheath FTE) can only be determined by spacecraft observations in the magnetosheath.

Keywords. Magnetospheric physics (Magnetopause, cusp and bondary layers; Solar wind- magnetosphere interactions; Magnetosheath)