Plasmasphere

Plasmasphere

[plaz-muh-sfeer]
The plasmasphere, or inner magnetosphere is a region of the Earth's magnetosphere consisting of low energy (cool) plasma. It is located above the ionosphere. The outer boundary of the plasmasphere is known as the plasmapause, which is defined by an order of magnitude drop in plasma density.

The plasmasphere was discovered in 1963 by Don Carpenter from the analysis of VLF whistler wave data.

Traditionally, the plasmasphere has been regarded as a well behaved cold plasma with particle motion dominated entirely by the geomagnetic field and hence corotating with the Earth. In contrast, recent satellite observations have shown that density irregularities such as plumes or biteouts may form. It has also been shown that the plasmasphere does not always co-rotate with the Earth.

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References

  • Carpenter, D. L., Whistler evidence of a 'knee' in the magnetospheric ionization density profile, J. Geophys. Res., 68, 1675-1682, 1963.
  • Nishida, A., Formation of plasmapause, or magnetospheric plasma knee, by combined action of magnetospheric convections and plasma escape from the tail, J. Geophys. Res., 71, 5669, 1966.
  • Sandel, B. R., et al., Extreme ultraviolet imager observations of the structure and dynamics of the plasmasphere, Space Sci. Rev., 109, 25, 2003.

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