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Field-Aligned Suprathermal Electron Fluxes Below 270 km in the Auroral Zone

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Planetary and Space Science





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Observations are reported of field aligned etectron fluxes in the energy range 50–500 eV at altitudes below 270 km from two rocket flights in the auroral zone. The regions of field aligned suprathermal electrons occurred in bursts of a few seconds duration, and in some instances the energy of the peak field aligned flux was in the range 100–500 eV. Theoretical calculations of the pitch angle distribution were made using the Monte Carlo technique for two model atmospheres having exospheric temperatures of 750 and 1500 K bracketing the expected auroral zone exospheric temperature. The calculations were made for the case of incident field aligned suprathermal fluxes with no local parallel electric field and also for the case of a local constant parallel electric field. Comparison of theoretical and experimental pitch angle distributions showed that in one case at 270 km a parallel electric field of 1–2 mV/m fitted the data whereas another burst at 210 km required a parallel electric field of about 10 mV/m to produce a field aligned distribution of 230 eV electrons as pronounced as was observed. Furthermore in this latter case the lack of strong field alignment at 500 eV pointed to localisation of the parallel electric field to an altitude range of 20–30 km about the rocket altitude.


Originally published by Elsevier. Publisher’s PDF available through remote link.