Cluster as current sheet surveyor in the magnetotail
- Space Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Schmiedlstr. 6, 8042 Graz, Austria
Abstract. A novel analysis technique is presented to estimate the current sheet thickness unambiguously and directly, without associating time series data with spatial structure. The technique is a combination of eigenvalue analysis and minimum variance estimator adapted to Harris current sheet geometry, and needs one-time, four-point magnetic field data as provided by the Cluster spacecraft. Two current sheet parameters, thickness and distance to the spacecraft, can be determined at each time step of the magnetic field measurements. An example is shown from a Cluster magnetotail crossing under quiet magnetospheric conditions, yielding the result that the current sheet thickness is on the scale of the proton gyroradius. The analysis technique can also be used to track the dynamical evolution of the current sheet structure in three dimensions.