This project will use global images of energetic neutral atom (ENA) data from the NASA IMAGE and TWINS missions to determine the ion density and temperature as a function of position in Earth's magnetotail. The project will examine how the heating varies between magnetic storms that are driven by coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and those driven by high speed solar wind streams. These observational results will then be used to establish temporally varying boundary conditions for a model of Earth's ring current (the Comprehensive Ring Current Model - CRCM). This will allow the investigation of how the effects of ion heating affect the dynamics of the inner magnetosphere.
Ion heating occurs in the magnetosphere primarily as a result of solar wind forcing and the heating is particularly strong during geomagnetic storms. Thus, understanding the dynamics of the magnetosphere requires the ability to accurately measure the ion temperature and understand how it is affected by varying processes in the solar wind. The dynamics of the terrestrial magnetosphere during geomagnetic storms are important to understand as we become increasingly reliant on satellite-based technologies for tasks from personal communication to national defense. Reliable measurements combined with models that can accurately represent the near-Earth space environment are an essential element to improving our ability to mitigate the adverse effects of space weather. The project includes educational impacts because a postdoctoral researcher and a graduate student will participate in the work. The project also has impacts on under-represented groups. The Principal Investigator is an early-career woman scientists who is involved with public outreach activities coordinated by the West Virginia chapter of the Association for Women in Science