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  • Article
  • Open Access

Net current density of photoelectrons emitted from the surface of the GEOTAIL spacecraft

  • 1Email author,
  • 1, 3,
  • 2,
  • 2 and
  • 2
Earth, Planets and Space201452:BF03351637

  • Received: 22 September 1999
  • Accepted: 15 February 2000
  • Published:


The current density carried by photoelectrons emitted from the GEOTAIL spacecraft is estimated from the electric potential of the spacecraft measured in the single probe mode of GEOTAIL/EFD and plasma density and temperature obtained by GEOTAIL/LEP during the period from September 14, 1993 to October 31, 1998, by assuming balance of the currents carried by photoelectrons and ambient thermal electrons. Behaviour of the photoelectron current as a function of spacecraft potential is consistent with the current profile predicted by Grard (1973), and the emitted photoelectrons consist of several components with different temperatures. The saturation density of the low energy component of the photoelectron current is 85 ± 33 × 10−6 [Am−2]. Number density of the photoelectrons is estimated to be 2.9 ± 1.4 × 109 [m−3] at the surface of the spacecraft, and the average energy of the photoelectrons is 2.1 ±0.5 [eV]. These values are higher than the prediction by Grard but consistent with previous in-flight measurements from GEOS-1, ISEE-1 or Viking.


  • Solar Wind
  • Indium Oxide
  • Ambient Plasma
  • Spacecraft Potential
  • Ambient Electron