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Electric field and shapes of waves as seen by Cluster

Electric field and shapes of waves as seen by Cluster


Date: 30 August 2001
Satellite: Cluster
Depicts: Diagram of electric field and deduced wave shapes
Copyright: ESA

The waves at the magnetopause travel through space much faster than the Cluster spacecraft. As they sweep past the four closely spaced satellites, instruments detect changes in the magnetic and electric field. These regular changes show that a series of steep waves is sweeping past the spacecraft. The measurements indicate that the waves are about 500 km across and that they travel through space at about 145 kms-1.

Here, the colour of the four horizontal lines on each panel shows the potential of the electric field detected by each spacecraft. Red corresponds to plasma in the magnetosheath region and blue to plasma inside the magnetosphere. The grey curved line shows schematically the size and shape of the waves. The short black lines show the electric field measurements.

The top panel is a more detailed view of part of the overall observations, covering a horizontal distance of about 5000 km. The lower panel shows observations over a horizontal distance of about 40 000 km. Note that during the period of observation the satellites moved only about 550 km (it is the wave that passes the satellites).

Such high precision measurements of the electric field have been made possible by designing more sensitive probes with the help of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics.

Last Update: 1 September 2019
7-Dec-2021 09:10 UT

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