Heliosphere-Geosphere Interactions Using Low Energy Neutral Atom Imaging
Development of the low energy neutral atom (LENA) imager was originally motivated by a need to remotely sense plasma heating in the topside ionosphere, with the goal of greatly enhanced temporal resolution of an otherwise familiar phenomenon. During ground test and calibration, the LENA imager was found to respond to neutral atoms with energies well above its nominal energy range of 10–750 eV, up to at least 3–4 keV, owing to sputtering interactions with its conversion surface. On orbit, LENA has been found to respond to a ubiquitous neutral atom component of the solar wind, to the neutral atoms formed by magnetosheath interactions with the geocorona during periods of high solar wind pressure, and to the interstellar neutral atoms flowing through the heliosphere during the season of maximal relative wind velocity between spacecraft and interstellar medium. LENA imaging has thus emerged as a promising new tool for studying the interplanetary medium and its interaction with the magnetosphere, in addition to the ionospheric heating and outflow that result from this interaction. LENA emissions from the ionosphere consist of a fast component that can be observed at high altitudes, and slower components that evidently create a quasi-trapped extended superthermal exosphere. The more energetic emissions are responsive to solar wind energy inputs on time scales of a few minutes.
KeywordsSolar Wind Neutral Atom Auroral Zone Solar Wind Dynamic Pressure Solar Wind Pressure
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