National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Living With A Star

Targeted Research and Technology

Predicting the Spacecraft-Charging Environment in the Magnetosphere from Upstream Solar-Wind Parameters

ROSES ID: NNH05ZDA001N      Selection Year: 2006      

Program Element: Focused Science Topic

Principal Investigator: Joseph Borovsky

Affiliation(s): Space Science Institute

Project Member(s):
Thomsen, Michelle F Co-I Planetary Science Institute


A three-year project is proposed to determine how the solar-wind plasma drives the spacecraft-charging environment inside the Earth's magnetosphere. The project builds on a series of recent studies that have determined the correlations and time lags between the properties of the solar-wind plasma and the hot-ion plasmas of the magnetosphere. The present study will focus on the connection between the solar wind and (a) the hot-electron plasma, (b) the low-density cold-ion population, and (c) measured values of spacecraft potentials, all in the magnetosphere. The study will utilize approximately 20 million measurements of spacecraft charging and the charging environment taken around the Earth's dipole at geosynchronous orbit. The objectives of this project are (1) to establish which solar-wind parameters affect the charging environment in the magnetosphere and by how much, (2) to determine the time lags at various locations around geosynchronous orbit for the solar wind to affect the environment there, (3) to determine the functional forms of the best-fit expressions connecting solar wind parameters with magnetospheric-environment parameters, (4) to determine how substorms affect the coupling and time lags of the solar wind to the charging environment, (5) to determine whether dipole inflation by a stormtime ring current affects the coupling and time lags of the solar wind to the charging environment, and (6) to assess the ability of the best-fit expressions and time lags to predict the charging environment from solar-wind input. The data sets that will be used are uniquely suited to this project and techniques that have been successful in similar studies will be utilized. The primary data set resides at Los Alamos and the Investigators have sufficient expertise to perform the tasks and interpret the results. In support of NASA and the LWS Program, this project will greatly further the understanding of the origin and control of the spacecraft-charging environment and will provide the information needed to predict that environment with a few-hour lead time. The project will also significantly further our understanding of the entry and transport of plasmas in the Earth's magnetosphere.


Performance YearReferenceInvestigation TypeActions
1Denton, M. H.; Borovsky, J. E.; (2008), Superposed epoc...
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1Borovsky, Joseph E.; Denton, Michael H.; (2010), On the...
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