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Large‐Scale Survey of the Structure of the Dayside Magnetopause by MMS


Haaland,  Stein
Department Planets and Comets, Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max Planck Society;

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Paschmann, G., Haaland, S., Phan, T. D., Sonnerup, B. U. Ö., Burch, J. L., Torbert, R. B., et al. (2018). Large‐Scale Survey of the Structure of the Dayside Magnetopause by MMS. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics. doi:10.1002/2017JA025121.

This paper describes the generation and initial utilization of a database containing 80 vector and scalar quantities, for a total of 8,670 magnetopause and magnetosheath current sheet crossings by MMS1, using plasma and magnetic field data from the Fast Plasma Investigation, Fluxgate Magnetometer, and Hot Plasma Composition Analyzer instruments, augmented by solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field data from CDAWeb. Based on a determination of the current sheet width, measured and calculated vector and scalar quantities are stored for the two sides of the current sheet and for selected times within the current sheet. The only manual operations were the classification of the current sheets according to the type of boundary, the character of the magnetic field transition, and the quality of the current sheet fit. To characterize the database, histograms of selected key quantities are presented. We then give the statistics for the duration, motion, and thicknesses of the magnetopause current sheet, using single‐spacecraft techniques for the determination of the normal velocities, obtaining median results of 12.9 s, 38.5 km/s, and 705.4 km, respectively. When scaled to the ion inertial length, the median thickness became 12.6; there were no thicknesses less than one. Next, we apply the Walén relation to find crossings that are rotational discontinuities and thus may indicate ongoing magnetic reconnection. For crossings where the velocities in the outflow region exceed the velocity on the magnetosheath side by at least 250 km/s, 47% meet our rotational discontinuity criteria. If we require the outflow to exceed 250 km/s along the L direction, then the percentage rises to 68%.