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Ion pickup observed at comet 67P with the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) particle sensors: similarities with previous observations and AMPTE releases, and effects of increasing activity

Coates, AJ; Burch, JL; Goldstein, R; Nilsson, H; Wieser, GS; Behar, E; Team, RPC; (2015) Ion pickup observed at comet 67P with the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) particle sensors: similarities with previous observations and AMPTE releases, and effects of increasing activity. Journal of Physics: Conference Series , 642 (1) , Article 012005. 10.1088/1742-6596/642/1/012005. Green open access

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Abstract

Rosetta’s unique trajectory is allowing exciting measurements of the development of cometary activity between ~3.6 and 1.2 AU for the first time. For a few months following Rosetta’s arrival at comet 67P in August 2014, data from the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) particle instruments (the Ion and Electron Spectrometer (IES) and the Ion Composition Analyser (ICA)), have shown that the low activity cometary environment was initially dominated by the solar wind. This was expected in the early stages of the mission. In addition to the solar wind and related He+ populations, a low energy pickup ion population is seen intermittently in the early phase of the mission near the comet. The population is very time dependent, but at times reaches higher energy approaching the solar wind energy. During these intervals, ICA data indicate that the composition is mainly water group ions. The rising energy signatures of these ions observed at times indicate that they are in the early phases of the pickup process, initially accelerated by the electric field (‘early phase pickup’). Here, we compare these exciting pickup ion measurements with Giotto measurements at the relatively weak (compared to Halley) comet Grigg-Skjellerup, where early phase pickup was seen including non-gyrotropic cometary ions, and with the AMPTE lithium and barium releases. Our results reveal some striking similarities with the AMPTE releases, particularly the rising energy signature related to early pickup, and a momentum balance between the pickup ions and the deflected solar wind. There is also evidence for momentum transfer between the pickup ions and the solar wind, with less velocity change seen in the solar wind alpha particles compared to the protons; this was also observed in an AMPTE lithium release. We discuss the effects of increasing activity observed between 3.6 to 1.8 AU, including the increasing dominance and energisation of pickup ions, increasing ionospheric effects and the decreasing effect of the solar wind.

Type: Article
Title: Ion pickup observed at comet 67P with the Rosetta Plasma Consortium (RPC) particle sensors: similarities with previous observations and AMPTE releases, and effects of increasing activity
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1088/1742-6596/642/1/012005
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1088/1742-6596/642/1/012005
Language: English
Additional information: 14th Annual International Astrophysics Conference: Linear and Nonlinear Particle Energization throughout the Heliosphere and Beyond. Content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. Published under licence by IOP Publishing Ltd
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Space and Climate Physics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1471921
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