In situ observations from STEREO/PLASTIC: a test for L5 space weather monitors
Abstract. Stream interaction regions (SIRs) that corotate with the Sun (corotating interaction regions, or CIRs) are known to cause recurrent geomagnetic storms. The Earth's L5 Lagrange point, separated from the Earth by 60 degrees in heliographic longitude, is a logical location for a solar wind monitor – nearly all SIRs/CIRs will be observed at L5 several days prior to their arrival at Earth. Because the Sun's heliographic equator is tilted about 7 degrees with respect to the ecliptic plane, the separation in heliographic latitude between L5 and Earth can be more than 5 degrees. In July 2008, during the period of minimal solar activity at the end of solar cycle 23, the two STEREO observatories were separated by about 60 degrees in longitude and more than 4 degrees in heliographic latitude. This time period affords a timely test for the practical application of a solar wind monitor at L5. We compare in situ observations from PLASTIC/AHEAD and PLASTIC/BEHIND, and report on how well the BEHIND data can be used as a forecasting tool for in situ conditions at the AHEAD spacecraft with the assumptions of ideal corotation and minimal source evolution. Preliminary results show the bulk proton parameters (density and bulk speed) are not in quantitative agreement from one observatory to the next, but the qualitative profiles are similar.