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An investigation into the roles of ECH and whistler mode waves in the formation of 'pancake' electron distributions using data from the CRRES satellite

By N.P. Meredith, A.D. Johnstone, S. Szita, R.B. Horne and R.R. Anderson


Electron pitch angle distributions sharply peaked at 90 degrees pitch angle were first recorded in the energy range 50 eV < E < 500 eV by the GEOS-1 and GEOS-2 spacecraft in 1977/8, from the plasmapause out to geostationary orbit. At the time they were explained as the remnants of pitch angle diffusion driven solely by Electron Cyclotron Harmonic (ECH) waves. Here we use observations by instruments on board the CRRES spacecraft to study these distributions in more detail. The pancake distributions are now seen to develop from injected distributions that are nearly isotropic in velocity space, on a time scale that is greater than 2 hours. The freshly injected distributions are associated with strong ECH and whistler mode waves suggesting that the pancake distributions are likely to be caused by a combination of both wave types. Our results suggest that whistler mode waves play a dominant role in the formation of pancake distributions outside L = 6.0, whereas inside L = 6.0 and, in particular, in the vicinity of the plasmapause, the ECH waves also play a significant role. Consequently both types of waves should be considered in any attempt to explain the diffuse aurora and the variation with L taken into account. (C) 2000 COSPAR. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd

Topics: Meteorology and Climatology
Year: 2000
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