Mid and High Latitude Ionospheric Response to Geomagnetic Storms using the DICE CubeSat

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Monday, 3 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Geoff Crowley, Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates, Boulder, CO; and M. Pilinski, I. Azeem, C. Swenson, C. Fish, T. Neilsen, D. Engineering Team, and A. Barjatya

The DICE mission consists of two identical 1.5U CubeSats deployed simultaneously from a single P-POD (Poly Picosatellite Orbital Deployer) into the same orbit. DICE was selected for flight under the NSF "CubeSat-based Science Mission for Space Weather and Atmospheric Research" program. The DICE twin satellites were launched on a Delta II rocket on October 28, 2011. The satellites are flying in a “leader-follower” formation in an elliptical orbit which ranges from 820 to 400 km in altitude. Each satellite carries a fixed-bias DC Langmuir Probe (DCP) to measure in-situ ionospheric plasma densities, a science grade magnetometer to measure DC and AC geomagnetic fields, and an Electric Field Probe (EFP) to measure DC and AC electric fields. These measurements will permit accurate identification of storm-time features such as the SED bulge and plume, together with simultaneous co-located electric field measurements which have previously been missing. The mission team combines expertise from ASTRA, Utah State University/Space Dynamics Laboratory (USU/SDL), Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

The DICE CubeSat mission has three scientific objectives: (1) Investigate the physical processes responsible for formation of the midlatitude ionospheric Storm Enhanced Density (SED) bulge in the noon to post-noon sector during magnetic storms; (2) Investigate the physical processes responsible for the formation of the SED plume at the base of the SED bulge and the transport of the high density SED plume across the magnetic pole; (3) Investigate the relationship between penetration electric fields and the formation and evolution of SED.

In this paper, the LP results during a geomagnetic storm event are compared with IDA4D assimilations of the polar and mid-latitude ionosphere. The presence and structure of an SED event is investigated.