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Simultaneous field-aligned currents at Swarm and Cluster satellites

Simultaneous field-aligned currents at Swarm and Cluster satellites

Publication date: 29 May 2015

Authors: Dunlop, M. W., et al.

Journal: Geophysical Research Letters
Volume: 42
Issue: 10
Page: 3683-3691
Year: 2015

Copyright: © 2015 American Geophysical Union

We show for the first time, with direct, multispacecraft calculations of electric current density, and other methods, matched signatures of field-aligned currents (FACs) sampled simultaneously near the ionosphere at low (~500 km altitude) orbit and in the magnetosphere at medium (~2.5 RE altitude) orbits using a particular Swarm and Cluster conjunction. The Cluster signatures are interpreted and ordered through joint mapping of the ground/magnetospheric footprints and estimation of the auroral zone boundaries (taken as indication of the boundaries of Region 1 and Region 2 currents). We find clear evidence of both small-scale and large-scale FACs and clear matching of the behavior and structure of the large-scale currents at both Cluster and Swarm. The methodology is made possible through the joint operations of Cluster and Swarm, which contain, in the first several months of Swarm operations, a number of close three-spacecraft configurations.

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