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Annales Geophysicae An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 31, issue 3
Ann. Geophys., 31, 513–527, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Ann. Geophys., 31, 513–527, 2013
© Author(s) 2013. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Regular paper 19 Mar 2013

Regular paper | 19 Mar 2013

Exospheric hydrogen density distributions for equinox and summer solstice observed with TWINS1/2 during solar minimum

J. H. Zoennchen, U. Nass, and H. J. Fahr J. H. Zoennchen et al.
  • Argelander Institut für Astronomie, Astrophysics Department, University of Bonn, Auf dem Huegel 71, 53121 Bonn, Germany

Abstract. The Lyman-α Detectors (LAD) on board the two TWINS 1/2-satellites allow for the simultaneous stereo imaging of the resonant emission glow of the H-geocorona from very different orbital positions. Terrestrial exospheric atomic hydrogen (H) resonantly scatters solar Lyman-α (121.567 nm) radiation. During the past solar minimum, relevant solar parameters that influence these emissions were quite stable. Here, we use simultaneous LAD1/2-observations from TWINS1 and TWINS2 between June 2008 and June 2010 to study seasonal variations in the H-geocorona. Data are combined to produce two datasets containing (summer) solstice and (combined spring and fall) equinox emissions. In the range from 3 to 10 Earth radii (RE), a three-dimensional (3-D) mathematical model is used that allows for density asymmetries in longitude and latitude. At lower geocentric distances (< 3 RE), a best fitting r-dependent (Chamberlain, 1963)-like model is adapted to enable extrapolation of our information to lower heights. We find that dawn and dusk H-geocoronal densities differ by up to a factor of 1.3 with higher densities on the dawn side. Also, noon densities are greater by up to a factor of 2 compared to the dawn and dusk densities. The density profiles are aligned well with the Earth–Sun line and there are clear density depletions over both poles that show additional seasonal effects. These solstice and equinox empirical fits can be used to determine H-geocoronal densities for any day of the year for solar minimum conditions.

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