Publication archive

Publication archive

Variations in the Sun's total energy output (luminosity) are caused by changing dark (sunspot) and bright structures on the solar disk during the 11-year sunspot cycle. The variations measured from spacecraft since 1978 are too small to have contributed appreciably to accelerated global warming over the past 30 years. In this Review, we show that detailed analysis of these small output variations has greatly advanced our understanding of solar luminosity change, and this new understanding indicates that brightening of the Sun is unlikely to have had a significant influence on global warming since the seventeenth century. Additional climate forcing by changes in the Sun's output of ultraviolet light, and of magnetized plasmas, cannot be ruled out. The suggested mechanisms are, however, too complex to evaluate meaningfully at present.
Published: 15 September 2006
We present details of the discovery of XLSS J022303.0-043622, a z = 1.2 cluster of galaxies. This cluster was identified from its X-ray properties and selected as a z>1 candidate from its optical/near-infrared (IR) characteristics in the XMM Large-Scale Structure Survey (XMM-LSS). It is the most distant system discovered in the survey to date. We present ground-based optical and near-IR observations of the system carried out as part of the XMM-LSS survey. The cluster has a bolometric X-ray luminosity of 1.1 +/- 0.7 × erg, fainter than most other known z >1 X-ray selected clusters. In the optical it has a remarkably compact core, with at least a dozen galaxies inside a 125 kpc radius circle centred on the X-ray position. Most of the galaxies within the core, and those spectroscopically confirmed to be cluster members, have stellar masses similar to those of massive cluster galaxies at low redshift. They have colours comparable to those of galaxies in other z >1 clusters, consistent with showing little sign of strong ongoing star formation. The bulk of the star formation within the galaxies appears to have ceased at least 1.5 Gyr before the observed epoch. Our results are consistent with massive cluster galaxies forming at z >1 and passively evolving thereafter. We also show that the system is straightforwardly identified in Spitzer/IRAC 3.6- and 4.5-mm data obtained by the Spitzer Wide-area Infrared Extragalactic (SWIRE) survey emphasizing the power and utility of joint XMM and Spitzer searches for the most distant clusters.
Published: 02 August 2006
We present an analysis of the electric and magnetic wave spectra on kinetic scales during several crossings of a reconnecting current sheet. The spectra were measured from 1 Hz or less up to 4096 Hz by the EFW, FGM and STAFF instruments onboard the Cluster spacecraft between 3 and 4 UT on 11 October 2001. During the event plasma flows of order of the local Alfvén speed reversed from tailward to earthward, suggesting that a reconnection site moved over the spacecraft. We ordered the observed electric and magnetic field wave spectrum by the position within the current sheet using the magnitude of the magnetic field B. We found that the electric and magnetic wave power decreased considerably at all frequencies towards the center of the current sheet (B ~ 0 nT). The electric energy density decreases 5 orders of magnitude from the edge of the current sheet (B = 19 nT) to the center and the magnetic energy density peaks within the current sheet (B = 13 nT) and is decreased by 2.5 orders of magnitude at the center. Within the current sheet, the electric and magnetic wave spectra were dominantly broadband electromagnetic noise (i.e., power law spectra with exponents ~ -1.4 and ~ -2.4, respectively) throughout the frequency range ~0.1-1000 Hz, spanning from MHD (i.e., ion cyclotron frequency ~0.2 Hz) to almost the electron plasma frequency (~4000 Hz). We argue that the wave activity is likely to be whistler wave turbulence and discuss the implications of these results for reconnection from wave-particle interactions.
Published: 01 September 2006
The martian polar caps are among the most dynamic regions on Mars, growing substantially in winter as a significant fraction of the atmosphere freezes out in the form of CO2 ice. Unusual dark spots, fans and blotches form as the south-polar seasonal CO2 ice cap retreats during spring and summer. Small radial channel networks are often associated with the location of spots once the ice disappears. The spots have been proposed to be simply bare, defrosted ground; the formation of the channels; has remained uncertain. Here we report infrared and visible observations that show that the spots and fans remain at CO2 ice temperatures well into summer, and must be granular materials that have been brought up to the surface of the ice, requiring a complex suite of processes to get them there. We propose that the seasonal ice cap forms an impermeable, translucent slab of CO2 ice that sublimates from the base, building up high-pressure gas beneath the slab. This gas levitates the ice, which eventually ruptures, producing high-velocity CO2 vents that erupt sand-sized grains in jets to form the spots and erode the channels. These processes are unlike any observed on Earth.
Published: 18 August 2006
The seasonal polar ice caps of Mars are composed mainly of CO2 ice. A region of low (< 30%) albedo has been observed within the south seasonal cap during early to mid-spring. The low temperature of this 'cryptic region' has been attributed to a clear slab of nearly pure CO2 ice, with the low albedo resulting from absorption by the underlying surface. Here we report near-infrared imaging spectroscopy of the south seasonal cap. The deep and broad CO2 absorption bands that are expected in the near-infrared with a thick transparent slab of CO2 ice are not observed. Models of the observed spectra indicate that the low albedo results from extensive dust contamination close to the surface of a CO2 ice layer, which could be linked to atmospheric circulation patterns. The strength of the CO2 absorption increases after mid-spring, so part of the dust is either carried away or buried more deeply in the ice layer during the CO2 ice sublimation process.
Published: 18 August 2006
Submitted to the Planetary Report, to appear September 2006.

SMART-1 is Europe's first lunar mission, the current step in developing an international program of lunar exploration. The spacecraft was launched on 23 September 2003 as an Ariane 5 Auxiliary passenger to Geostationary Transfer Orbit (GTO), performed a 14 month long cruise using the tiny thrust of electric propulsion alone, reached lunar capture in Nov 2004, and lunar science orbit in March 2005. SMART-1 carries seven hardware experiments (performing 10 investigations, including three remote sensing instruments, used during the cruise, the mission's nominal six months and one year extension in lunar science orbit. The remote sensing instruments contribute to key planetary scientific questions, related to theories of lunar origin and evolution, the global and local crustal composition, the search for cold traps at the lunar poles and the mapping of potential lunar resources.

Published: 17 August 2006
We report the detection of both the 67.9 and 78.4 keV 44Sc gamma-ray lines in Cassiopeia A with the INTEGRAL IBIS/ISGRI instrument. Besides the robustness provided by spectroimaging observations, the main improvements compared to previous measurements are a clear separation of the two 44Sc lines together with an improved significance of the detection of the hard X-ray continuum up to 100 keV. These allow us to refine the determination of the 44Ti yield and to constrain the nature of the nonthermal continuum emission. By combining COMPTEL, BeppoSAX PDS and ISGRI measurements, we find a line flux of (2.5+/-0.3)×10-5 cm-2s-1 leading to a synthesized 44Ti mass of 1.6+0.6-0.3×10-4 Msolar. This high value suggests that Cas A is peculiar in comparison to other young supernova remnants, from which so far no line emission from 44Ti decay has been unambiguously detected.
Published: 16 August 2006
In the early morning of 9 November 2005, Venus Express left Earth aboard a Soyuz launch vehicle and headed for Venus. After several months of interplanetary cruise, a perfect capture burn on 11 April 2006 placed the spacecraft in orbit around our neighbouring planet. Only 48 hours later, the first astonishing images of the south pole were received on Earth. A few weeks later, after orbital manoeuvres, Venus Express achieved its operational science orbit ready to begin several years of observations.
Published: 16 August 2006
We have carried out a high spectral resolution (lambda/Deltalambda ~ 6800-9700) line survey towards the Orion Kleinmann-Low (KL) cluster from 44 to 188 micron. The observations were taken with the Long Wavelength Spectrometer (LWS) in Fabry-Pérot mode, on board the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO). A total of 152 lines are clearly detected and a further 34 features are present as possible detections. The spectrum is dominated by the molecular species H2O, OH and CO, along with [OI] and [CII] lines from photodissociation region (PDR) or shocked gas and [O III] and [NIII] lines from the foreground M42 HII region. Several isotopic species, as well as NH3, are also detected. HDO and H3O+ are tentatively detected for the first time in the far-infrared (FIR) range towards Orion KL. A basic analysis of the line observations is carried out, by comparing with previous measurements and published models and deriving rotational temperatures and column densities in the case of the molecular species.
Published: 16 August 2006
New results on a steady state Vlasov theory of current sheets, which generalizes the Harris (1962) model by assuming anisotropic and nongyrotropic plasmas and using the invariant of particle motion in regions of strong gradients, are presented with the aim to explain multiprobe observations of thin current sheets in the geomagnetotail and laboratory experiments, including the effects of current sheet embedding and bifurcation. The dynamics of these sheets is explored using a full particle code with more realistic mass ratio and anisotropy parameters than those used in our earlier works. The results relevant to 2001 CLUSTER observations, with the sheet thickness appreciably exceeding the thermal ion gyroradius, include ion distributions and pressure tensor components, which reveal the important role of nongyrotropic effects on the structure of these sheets. Their flapping motions are distinguished by north-south asymmetry of current profiles, quasi-rectangular shape of the flapping waves, and their small propagation speed, suggesting an explanation of their propagation toward the flanks of the tail sheet. The main effect of the ion anisotropy on the sheets with thickness less than the thermal ion gyroradius, relevant to 2003 CLUSTER observations and laboratory experiments, is their charging, which may limit their minimum thickness, while their structure can be modified by electron anisotropy. Other distinctive features of these sheets are three-peaked current density profiles, found both in simulations and in the steady state theory, the north-south asymmetry of flapping sheets, and the shape of flapping waves, which is drastically different from the case of thicker sheets.
Published: 13 August 2006
On May 10, 2002 the Cluster spacecraft (SC) encountered a ~450 km (five magnetosheath thermal proton gyro-radii) wide high-latitude magnetopause (MP). Magnetic field observations indicate the crossing of a ~130 km thick MP current sheet (CS) located inside a magnetic hole. Proton flux measurements diagnose a dense boundary layer (BL) directly attached to the MP and an additional rare BL located earthwards from the MP. Enhanced magnetic fluctuations are found near the local proton-cyclotron frequency Omegacp (0.4-2 Hz). Applying the phase-differencing technique we obtained a wavelength of 150-250 km and the propagating direction earthward perpendicular to the MP. Inside the MP the pitch-angle proton distribution demonstrates the presence of a transverse population. The formation of the two BLs can be understood by enhanced collisionless diffusion of magnetosheath protons due to wave-particle interaction, while higher-energy protons (Wp > 300 eV) penetrate into the BLs also via finite gyro-radius effect.
Published: 12 August 2006
Energetic electrons (E >= 30 keV) travelling along and perpendicular to the magnetic field lines have been observed in the magnetotail at L~17:00 and 22:00 MLT during the recovery phase of a storm-time substorm on 7 October 2002. Three-dimensional electron distributions of the full unit sphere obtained from the IES/RAPID sensor system demonstrated a rather complicated and random behavior of the energetic electrons. Occasionally these electrons were appearing to travel parallel, perpendicular, or in both directions, relative to the magnetic field direction, forming in this way bi-directional, perpendicular-peaked, and mixed distributions. The electron enhancements occurred while the Cluster spacecraft were on closed field lines in the central plasma sheet approaching the neutral sheet from the northern tail lobe. Magnetic field and energetic particle measurements have been used from geosynchronous and Cluster satellites, in order to describe the general context of the event and then give a possible interpretation regarding the occurrence of the electron anisotropies observed by the IES/RAPID spectrometer on board Cluster. According to geosynchronous measurements an electron dispersionless ejection is very well correlated with a dipolar re-configuration of the magnetic field. The latter fact supports the idea that electrons and, in general, particle ejections at geosynchronous altitude are directly related to electric fields arising from field dipolarization caused by current disruption. Also, having as a main objective the understanding of the way 3-D electron distributions are formed, we have analyzed electron energy spectra along and perpendicular to the magnetic field direction, demonstrating the fact that the electron population consists of two distinct components acting independently and in a random manner relative to each other.
Published: 10 August 2006
We investigate in detail a reversal of plasma flow from tailward to earthward detected by Cluster at the downstream distance of ~19 RE in the midnight sector of the magnetotail on 22 August 2001. This flow reversal was accompanied by a sign reversal of the Bz component and occurred during the late substorm expansion phase as revealed by simultaneous global view of auroral activity from IMAGE. We examine the associated Hall current system signature, current density, electric field, Lorentz force, and current dissipation/dynamo term, the last two parameters being new features that have not been studied previously for plasma flow reversals. It is found that (1) there was no clear quadrupole Hall current system signature organized by the flow reversal time, (2) the x-component of the Lorentz force did not change sign while the other two did, (3) the timing sequence of flow reversal from the Cluster configuration did not match tailward motion of a single plasma flow source, (4) the electric field was occasionally dawnward, producing a dynamo effect, and (5) the electric field was occasionally larger at the high-latitude plasma sheet than near the neutral sheet. These observations are consistent with the current disruption model for substorms in which these disturbances are due to shifting dominance of multiple current disruption sites and turbulence at the observing location.
Published: 10 August 2006
Observations by the Cluster spacecraft of VLF/ELF wave activity show distinct signatures for different regions in the vicinity of high altitude polar cusps, which are identified by using magnetic field and plasma data along spacecraft trajectories. These waves include: (1) Broad band magnetic noise observed in the polar cusp at frequencies from several Hz to ~100 Hz, below the local electron cyclotron frequency, fce. Similar magnetic noise is also observed in the high latitude magnetosheath and the magnetopause boundary layer. (2) Strong broad band electrostatic emissions observed in the cusp, in the magnetosheath, and in the high latitude magnetopause boundary layer, at frequencies extending from several Hz to tens of kHz, with maximum intensities below ~100 Hz. (3) Narrow-band electromagnetic whistler waves at frequencies ~0.2-0.6 fce, frequently observed in the closed boundary layer (CBL) adjacent to the polar cusp. These waves are for the first time observed in this region to be accompanied by counter-streaming electron beams of ~100 eV, which suggests that the waves are excited by these electrons through wave-particle interaction. (4) Narrow-band electrostatic waves observed slightly above the local fce in the CBL. (5) Lion roars, observed in the high latitude magnetosheath, often in magnetic troughs of mirror mode oscillations. The above wave signatures can serve as indicators of the regions in the vicinity of the magnetospheric cusp.
Published: 10 August 2006
We surveyed fast current sheet crossings (flapping motions) over the distance range 10-30 RE in the magnetotail covered by the Geotail spacecraft. Since the local tilts of these dynamic sheets are large and variable in these events, we compare three different methods of evaluating current sheet normals using 4-s/c Cluster data and define the success criteria for the single-spacecraft-based method (MVA) to obtain the reliable results. Then, after identifying more than ~1100 fast CS crossings over a 3-year period of Geotail observations in 1997-1999, we address their parameters, spatial distribution and activity dependence. We confirm that over the entire distance covered and LT bins, fast crossings have considerable tilts in the YZ plane (from estimated MVA normals) which show a preferential appearance of one (YZ kink-like) mode that is responsible for these severe current sheet perturbations. Their occurrence is highly inhomogeneous; it sharply increases with radial distance and has a peak in the tail center (with some duskward shift), resembling the occurrence of the BBFs, although there is no one-to-one local correspondence between these two phenomena. The crossing durations typically spread around 1 min and decrease significantly where the high-speed flows are registered. Based on an AE index superposed epoch study, the flapping motions prefer to appear during the substorm expansion phase, although a considerable number of events without any electrojet and auroral activity were also observed. We also present statistical distributions of other parameters and briefly discuss what could be possible mechanisms to generate the flapping motions.
Published: 10 August 2006
In this paper we study flux transfer events (FTE) observed at the post-noon edge of the exterior cusp region by Cluster satellites. During the outbound dayside orbit on 2 February 2003, intense bursts of energetic particles were observed in close conjuction with magnetic field FTE signatures by the RAPID instrument onboard the Cluster 4. The pitch-angle distribution of the particles showed that the enhancements consist of particles flowing antiparallel to the magnetosheath field lines away from the expected reconnection site to the exterior cusp. At the same time Cluster 3 observed enhancements of energetic particles deeper in the exterior cusp with a delay of about 40 s to the Cluster 4 enhancements. The estimated maximum energy gain per particle by reconnection remains below 1 keV, thus clearly below the tens to hundreds of keV energy range observed by the RAPID instrument. These observations support the earlier statistical result of the magnetospheric origin of energetic particles in the exterior cusp. Reconnection near the exterior cusp partly releases the particles in the closed field lines of the adjacent HLPS region into the exterior cusp.
Published: 10 August 2006
We investigate in detail a reversal of plasma flow from tailward to earthward detected by Cluster at the downstream distance of ~19 RE in the midnight sector of the magnetotail on 22 August 2001. This flow reversal was accompanied by a sign reversal of the Bz component and occurred during the late substorm expansion phase as revealed by simultaneous global view of auroral activity from IMAGE. We examine the associated Hall current system signature, current density, electric field, Lorentz force, and current dissipation/dynamo term, the last two parameters being new features that have not been studied previously for plasma flow reversals. It is found that (1) there was no clear quadrupole Hall current system signature organized by the flow reversal time, (2) the x-component of the Lorentz force did not change sign while the other two did, (3) the timing sequence of flow reversal from the Cluster configuration did not match tailward motion of a single plasma flow source, (4) the electric field was occasionally dawnward, producing a dynamo effect, and (5) the electric field was occasionally larger at the high-latitude plasma sheet than near the neutral sheet. These observations are consistent with the current disruption model for substorms in which these disturbances are due to shifting dominance of multiple current disruption sites and turbulence at the observing location.
Published: 10 August 2006
Coordinated ground-based observations of Titan were performed around or during the Huygens atmospheric probe mission at Titan on 14 January 2005, connecting the momentary in situ observations by the probe with the synoptic coverage provided by continuing ground-based programs. These observations consisted of three different categories: (1) radio telescope tracking of the Huygens signal at 2040 MHz, (2) observations of the atmosphere and surface of Titan, and (3) attempts to observe radiation emitted during the Huygens Probe entry into Titan's atmosphere. The Probe radio signal was successfully acquired by a network of terrestrial telescopes, recovering a vertical profile of wind speed in Titan's atmosphere from 140 km altitude down to the surface. Ground-based observations brought new information on atmosphere and surface properties of the largest Saturnian moon. No positive detection of phenomena associated with the Probe entry was reported. This paper reviews all these measurements and highlights the achieved results. The ground-based observations, both radio and optical, are of fundamental importance for the interpretation of results from the Huygens mission.
Published: 28 July 2006
Measurements of stratospheric zonal winds on Titan were made in preparation for and during the time of the descent of the Huygens Probe into Titan's atmosphere on 14 January 2005. Fully resolved emission lines from ethane near 11.7 micron were measured on the east, center, and west positions on Titan using the NASA/GSFC Heterodyne Instrument for Planetary Wind And Composition, HIPWAC, mounted on the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan 8.2 m Subaru Telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Analysis of the Doppler shifts of the emission line shapes yielded mean prograde gas velocity ~60 ± 65 m/s at altitudes below ~120 km (~5 mbar). This result is consistent with retrievals from the Huygens Doppler Wind Experiment and from other observations near this altitude range. Current spectral line shapes, however, differed significantly from those obtained in similar measurements on Subaru in 2004 and on the NASA IRTF in 1993-1996, which retrieved prograde zonal winds 190 ± 90 m/s at 230 km (~0.4 mbar). The cores of the emission lines, which probe the high-altitude region, could not be fitted as before to retrieve wind directly using the accepted atmospheric model for Titan. They imply an approximately tenfold increase in ethane mole fraction (1.2 × 10-4) with strong wind shear above the stratopause, providing a potential probe of the lower mesosphere and possible evidence of temporal and spatial variability. Results contribute to coordinated measurements of winds by various techniques providing information on the altitude distribution of wind velocity in Titan's atmosphere from near the surface to the lower mesosphere.
Published: 29 July 2006
Saturn's moon Titan shows landscapes with fluvial features suggestive of hydrology based on liquid methane. Recent efforts in understanding Titan's methane hydrological cycle have focused on occasional cloud outbursts near the south pole or cloud streaks at southern mid-latitudes and the mechanisms of their formation. It is not known, however, if the clouds produce rain or if there are also non-convective clouds, as predicted by several models. Here we show that the in situ data on the methane concentration and temperature profile in Titan's troposphere point to the presence of layered optically thin stratiform clouds. The data indicate an upper methane ice cloud and a lower, barely visible, liquid methane-nitrogen cloud, with a gap in between. The lower, liquid, cloud produces drizzle that reaches the surface. These non-convective methane clouds are quasi-permanent features supported by the global atmospheric circulation, indicating that methane precipitation occurs wherever there is slow upward motion. This drizzle is a persistent component of Titan's methane hydrological cycle and, by wetting the surface on a global scale, plays an active role in the surface geology of Titan.
Published: 28 July 2006
23-Sep-2020 06:20 UT

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