Multipoint measurements of field-aligned current density in the auroral zone

Authors


Abstract

[1] In this paper we present the analysis and interpretation of a multipoint observation of magnetic field structures at the poleward edge of a premidnight auroral arc by the Enstrophy sounding rocket mission. Four Free-Flying Magnetometers (FFMs) employing autonomous nanospacecraft technology were deployed from the main payload during the flight, and multipoint magnetic field measurements were made. Signatures consistent with both spatial and temporal interpretations were found to be present when large fluctuations in B were seen at the edge of an arc as the rocket flew into the polar cap. Reasons for the interpretation of spatial or temporal features are given and supported by a simple model of multiple payloads crossing through several moving current sheets and a study of the fine structure of this auroral event using multipoint, correlative wavelet analysis to find velocities of structures at different scale sizes. We show that the direct measurement method of current density using multipoint measurement of magnetic fields gives us a different current density than what would be inferred from a single-point measurement and that the multipoint measurement also provides an inherent check on the validity of the measurement through a calculation of the divergence of the measured B.

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