Volume 656, December 2021
Solar Orbiter First Results (Cruise Phase)
|Number of page(s)||5|
|Section||Letters to the Editor|
|Published online||14 December 2021|
Letter to the Editor
High-cadence measurements of electron pitch-angle distributions from Solar Orbiter SWA-EAS burst mode operations
Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Holmbury St. Mary, Dorking, Surrey RH5 6NT, UK
2 Space and Atmospheric Physics, The Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK
3 Laboratoire de Physique des Plasmas, Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau, France
4 Space Science Center, University of New Hampshire, Morse Hall, Durham, NH 03824, USA
5 INAF-Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Via Fosso del Cavaliere 100, 00133 Roma, Italy
6 Southwest Research Institute, 6220 Culebra Road, San Antonio, TX 78238, USA
7 Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie, 9 avenue du Colonel Roche, BP 4346, 31028 Toulouse Cedex 4, France
8 Planetek Italia S.r.l., Via Massaua, 12, 70132 Bari, BA, Italy
9 Leonardo, Viale del lavoro, 101, 74123 Taranto, Italy
10 Northumbria University, Department of Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8QH, UK
Accepted: 18 June 2021
Small-scale kinetic processes associated with turbulence, plasma instabilities, magnetic reconnection, etc., play a major role in dissipating energy and governing the large-scale evolution of the solar wind. However, a general impediment to improving the understanding of the kinetic physics of the solar wind is in the limitations on measurement cadences of particle instruments, which are usually several orders of magnitude below the equivalent cadences of field instruments. Nevertheless, knowledge of the details of the particle velocity distribution functions (VDFs) at sub-second cadence is required to make progress in this area. This is particularly true for the electron VDFs, which play a significant role in the overall energetics of the solar wind through their transmission of heat flux from the Sun. In this paper, we detail and illustrate a novel measurement scheme deployed on Solar Orbiter’s Solar Wind Analyser Electron Analyser System (SWA-EAS), which allows for 2D pitch angle distributions (PAD) to be returned over short periods (5–10 min) at a cadence of 0.125 s. This is achieved through the use of a B-field vector shared by the magnetometer (MAG) instrument to steer the SWA-EAS system to record only that part of the full SWA-EAS field-of-view needed to construct the PAD. We provide an example of early observations using this scheme to illustrate that it is working well. Given that the electrons are usually gyrotropic, these measurements provide a new tool with which to derive details of the electron VDFs at high cadence for the study of the solar wind’s kinetic processes.
Key words: magnetic fields / instabilities / plasmas / Sun: heliosphere / solar wind / methods: observational
© ESO 2021
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