[1] In this paper we present new results using Cluster/Research with Adaptive Particle Imaging Detectors (RAPID) energetic particle observations to remotely sound the high-latitude magnetopause in three dimensions. We demonstrate that energetic particle flux variations in the vicinity of the magnetopause (inside the magnetosphere) are mainly modulated by the absorbing magnetopause during quiet geomagnetic conditions. Less than two gyro radii from an absorbing boundary a trapped particle distribution becomes nongyrotropic, as particles start to encounter the boundary. Knowing the magnetic field and the particle mass and energy, the direction and distance to the magnetopause can be derived by examining the azimuthal distribution of locally mirroring particles. Combining observations from three nearby spacecraft gives a three-dimensional, local picture of the magnetopause surface. We exploit anisotropic ion distributions to determine magnetopause distances, orientations, and structures in the interval from 1320 to 1420 UT on 14 January 2001 for the three Cluster spacecraft (Rumba, Samba, and Tango) located on the duskside (at ∼1700 MLT) high-latitude region. The results clearly illustrate that the magnetopause ion sounding technique as proposed by Williams [1979], Fritz and Fahnenstiel [1982], and Zong et al. [2000] can be used to remotely study the three-dimensional orientation and location of the magnetopause surface and the gradient variation of the plasma parameters. Intercomparison between energetic particle sounding distance and simultaneous plasma and magnetic field measurements suggests that solar wind plasma can penetrate more than ≈1000 km deeper than the trapping boundary. The fluxes of different ion species are proportional to the distance from the magnetopause, with a correlation coefficient of 0.7 to 0.8. The energetic proton flux gradient as a function of distance from the magnetosphere is about 100 particles cm−2 s−1 sr−1 per kilometer. In contrast, the solar wind plasma density is found to be inversely proportional to the distance. The solar wind plasma appears to be bounded by an exponential with an e-folding distance of 1000 km.



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Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics


American Geophysical Union

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Copyright 2004 by the American Geophysical Union.

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