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Statistical correlation of low-altitude ENA emissions with geomagnetic activity from IMAGE/MENA observations


Mackler, D. A.
Jahn, J-M
Perez, J. D.
Pollock, C. J.
Valek, P. W.


Plasma sheet particles transported Earthward during times of active magnetospheric convection can interact with exospheric/thermospheric neutrals through charge exchange. The resulting Energetic Neutral Atoms (ENAs) are free to leave the influence of the magnetosphere and can be remotely detected. ENAs associated with low-altitude (300-800km) ion precipitation in the high-latitude atmosphere/ionosphere are termed low-altitude emissions (LAEs). Remotely observed LAEs are highly nonisotropic in velocity space such that the pitch angle distribution at the time of charge exchange is near 90 degrees. The Geomagnetic Emission Cone of LAEs can be mapped spatially, showing where proton energy is deposited during times of varying geomagnetic activity. In this study we present a statistical look at the correlation between LAE flux (intensity and location) and geomagnetic activity. The LAE data are from the MENA imager on the IMAGE satellite over the declining phase of solar cycle 23 (2000-2005). The SYM-H, AE, and Kp indices are used to describe geomagnetic activity. The goal of the study is to evaluate properties of LAEs in ENA images and determine if those images can be used to infer properties of ion precipitation. Results indicate a general positive correlation to LAE flux for all three indices, with the SYM-H showing the greatest sensitivity. The magnetic local time distribution of LAEs is centered about midnight and spreads with increasing activity. The invariant latitude for all indices has a slightly negative correlation. The combined results indicate LAE behavior similar to that of ion precipitation.