Low-altitude signatures of the cusp and flux transfer events
Lockwood, M. and Smith, M. F. (1989) Low-altitude signatures of the cusp and flux transfer events. Geophysical Research Letters, 16 (8). pp. 879-882. ISSN 0094-8276
To link to this article DOI: 10.1029/GL016i008p00879
The usual interpretation of a flux transfer event (FTE) at the magnetopause, in terms of time-dependent and possibly patchy reconnection, demands that it generate an ionospheric signature. Recent ground-based observations have revealed that auroral transients in the cusp/cleft region have all the characteristics required of FTE effects. However, signatures in the major available dataset, namely that from low-altitude polar-orbiting satellites, have not yet been identified. In this paper, we consider a cusp pass of the DE-2 spacecraft during strongly southward IMF. The particle detectors show magnetosheath ion injection signatures. However, the satellite motion and convection are opposed, and we discuss how the observed falling energy dispersion of the precipitating ions can have arisen from a static, moving or growing source. The spatial scale of the source is typical of an FTE. A simple model of the ionospheric signature of an FTE reproduces the observed electric and magnetic field perturbations. Precipitating electrons of peak energy ∼100eV are found to lie on the predicted boundary of the newly-opened tube, very similar to those found on the edges of FTEs at the magnetopause. The injected ions are within this boundary and their dispersion is consistent with its growth as reconnection proceeds. The reconnection potential and the potential of the induced ionospheric motion are found to be the same (≃25kV). The scanning imager on DE-1 shows a localised transient auroral feature around DE-2 at this time, similar to the recent optical/radar observations of FTEs.