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  • Article
  • Open Access

Electrostatic electron cyclotron harmonic waves observed by the Akebono satellite near the equatorial region of the plasmasphere

Earth, Planets and Space200759:BF03352723

  • Received: 6 April 2004
  • Accepted: 21 March 2007
  • Published:


Analysis of the plasma wave observation data provided by the plasma waves and sounder experiment (PWS) on board the Akebono satellite frequently reveals the presence of electrostatic electron cyclotron harmonic (ESCH) waves in the low-latitude region (MLAT < 45°) of the plasmasphere within an altitude range from about 3000 km to the apogee of the satellite (initial apogee was 10,500 km). Even at moderate or low geomagnetic activity, intense ESCH waves often appear near the equatorial region of the plasmasphere above the upper hybrid resonance (UHR) frequency at the lowest harmonic number branch of the fQn ESCH waves. We identified these plasma waves as the equatorial plasmasphere fQn waves (EP-fQn). The spectra of the EP-fQn waves are characterized by a narrow band structure and by a strong nature, with a wave intensity that ranges from 3.46 × 10-8 to 3.31 × 10-4 V/m. The maximum intensity is nearly coincident with the upper limit of the PWS receiver in the low-gain mode. Statistical analysis results reveal that the EP-fQn waves are observable in all the local time sectors; however, the occurrence probability shows a clear enhancement in the early morning sector of 01–03 MLT in the plasmasphere. The EP-fQn wave activities are suppressed within a period of strong magnetic disturbances as well as solar minimum phase. The linear dispersion relation analysis using a two-component plasma model reveals that supra-thermal plasma with the energy of about 750 eV and with a large temperature anisotropy (A = T-perp/T-parallel–1 > 40) must be present in order to realize an appearance of a positive growth rate at the observed frequency and propagation angle of the ESCH waves. Since the hot plasma with such a high anisotropy has not been detected, the validity of the present two-component plasma model remains an open question. The occurrence feature of the ESCH waves showed that there is a constant activation or a constant flow-in of free energy to generate the strong plasma instability of ESCH waves near the post-midnight sector of the plasmasphere. The existence of ESCH waves revealed that the nature of the plasmaspheric plasma is more turbulent and active than has been believed.

Key words

  • Plasmasphere
  • temperature anisotropy
  • equatorial region
  • hot plasma
  • UHR
  • plasma parameter
  • fQnresonance
  • the Akebono satellite