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IMAGE Finds a New Way to Study the Motion of the Cusp

Magnetosphere Cusp

The LENA imager observed significant emission coming from the high-latitude magnetosheath region during extreme solar wind conditions on April 11, 2001. The sources shifted towards the equator, while sometimes undergoing brief pole-wards returns. SuperDARN observations, meanwhile, noted that the equatorward motion of the polar cusp latitude also consisted of the same kinds of rapid and slow stages. The SuperDARN cusp changes correlated with the motion of the emission detected by LENA, so that both LENA and SuperDARN were observing the same underlying system. This provides space physicists with a new way to monitor the high-altitude cusp region from space, and reliably ties the ground-based and space-based observations together.

(2004: Taguchi et al.)

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Additional Information

Polar Cusp Region -The region of the magnetosphere where the distortions caused by the solar wind create a funnel-like zone that reaches deep into Earth's polar magnetic field, allowing low-energy solar wind particles to reach the upper atmosphere.

Magnetosheath A narrow zone just below the magnetopause where the solar wind and the plasma within Earth's magnetosphere mix under turbulent conditions.

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Dr. S. Odenwald,, +1-301-286-6953
NSSDC, Mail Code 630, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771
NASA Approval: J. L. Green,
Rev. 1.0.0, 24 July 2004, EVB II