Auroral zone effects on hydrogen geocorona structure and variability

T. E. Moore, A. P. Biddle, J. H. Waite, T. L. Killeen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The instantaneous structure of planetary exospheres is determined by the time history of energy dissipation, chemical, and transport processes operative during a prior time interval set by intrinsic atmospheric time scales. The complex combination of diurnal and magnetospheric activity modulations imposed on the Earth's upper atmosphere no doubt produce an equally complex response, especially in hydrogen, which escapes continuously at exospheric temperatures. Vidal-Madjar and Thomas (1978) have discussed some of the persistent large scale structure which is evident in satellite ultraviolet observations of hydrogen, noting in particular a depletion at high latitudes which is further discussed by Thomas and Vidal-Madjar (1978). The latter authors discussed various causes of the H density depletion, including local neutral temperature enhancements and enhanced escape rates due to polar wind H+ plasma flow or high latitude ion heating followed by charge exchange. We have reexamined the enhancement of neutral escape by plasma effects including the recently observed phenomenon of low altitude transverse ion acceleration. We find that, while significant fluxes of neutral H should be produced by this phenomenon in the auroral zone, this process is probably insufficient to account for the observed polar depletion. Instead, the recent exospheric temperature measurements from the Dynamics Explorer-2 spacecraft suggest that neutral heating in and near the high latitude cusp may be the major contributor to depleted atomic hydrogen densities at high latitudes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-505
Number of pages7
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1985
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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