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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 24, issue 7
Ann. Geophys., 24, 1829–1837, 2006
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-24-1829-2006
© Author(s) 2006. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 24, 1829–1837, 2006
https://doi.org/10.5194/angeo-24-1829-2006
© Author(s) 2006. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

  09 Aug 2006

09 Aug 2006

Parallel electric fields inferred during a pulsating aurora

J. D. Williams1, E. MacDonald2, M. McCarthy3, L. Peticolas4, and G. K. Parks4 J. D. Williams et al.
  • 1Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana 59812, USA
  • 2Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM 87545, USA
  • 3Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Wa. 98195, USA
  • 4University of California, Berkeley Space Science Laboratory, Berkeley, CA 94720-7450, USA

Abstract. A sounding rocket, equipped to study pulsating aurora launched from Poker Flat, Alaska on 13 March 1997 at 10:20:31 UT, measured electron precipitation over the range ~10 eV to 500 keV covering pitch-angles from 0 to 180°. Data show electrons with energies <1 keV are mostly secondaries produced below the rocket altitude by the higher energy precipitated electrons. We observed nearly equal fluxes of up and down going electrons for energies <1 keV at altitudes from 265 to 380 km. Electron transport simulation results indicate the secondaries produced by the more energetic electrons will have two times higher flux in the upward direction as compared to the downward direction. Our observations of nearly equal fluxes of up and downgoing electrons over a large range of altitudes is consistent with the presence of an electric potential above the rocket that reflects the upgoing electrons back toward the rocket where they are detected as downward going electrons. The strength of the potential is estimated to be 1.5±0.5 kV and its location is no greater than 5000km above the rocket. Finally, the inferred potential drop exists independently of the presence of pulsations.

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