First tomographic image of ionospheric outflows

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Abstract

[1] An image of the dayside low-energy ion outflow event that occurred on 16 December 2003 was constructed with ground- and space-based GPS (Global Positioning System) Total Electron Content (TEC) data and ion drift meter data from the DMSP (Defense Meteorological Satellite Program). A tomographic reconstruction technique has been applied to the GPS TEC data obtained from the GPS receiver on the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite FedSat. The two dimensional tomographic image of the topside ionosphere and plasmasphere reveals a spectacular beam-like dayside ion outflow emanating from the cusp region. The transverse components of the magnetic field in FedSat's NewMag data show the presence of field aligned current (FAC) sheets, indicating the existence of low-energy electron precipitation in the cusp region. The DMSP ion drift data show upward ion drift velocities and upward fluxes of low-energy ions and electrons at the orbiting height of the DMSP spacecraft in the cusp region. This study presents the first tomographic image of the flux tube structure of ionospheric ion outflows from 0.13 Re up to 3.17 Re altitude.

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