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Journal articles

Solar cycle variations of the Cluster spacecraft potential and its use for electron density estimations

Abstract : [1] A sunlit conductive spacecraft, immersed in tenuous plasma, will attain a positive potential relative to the ambient plasma. This potential is primarily governed by solar irradiation, which causes escape of photoelectrons from the surface of the spacecraft, and the electrons in the ambient plasma providing the return current. In this paper we combine potential measurements from the Cluster satellites with measurements of extreme ultraviolet radiation from the TIMED satellite to establish a relation between solar radiation and spacecraft charging from solar maximum to solar minimum. We then use this relation to derive an improved method for determination of the current balance of the spacecraft. By calibration with other instruments we thereafter derive the plasma density. The results show that this method can provide information about plasma densities in the polar cap and magnetotail lobe regions where other measurements have limitations.
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Submitted on : Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 10:26:40 AM
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B Lybekk, A Pedersen, S Haaland, K Svenes, Andrew N. Fazakerley, et al.. Solar cycle variations of the Cluster spacecraft potential and its use for electron density estimations. Journal of Geophysical Research Space Physics, American Geophysical Union/Wiley, 2012, 117, A01217 (14 p.). ⟨10.1029/2011JA016969⟩. ⟨insu-01179669⟩



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