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Authors: Del Corpo, Alfredo* 
Vellante, Massimo* 
Zhelavskaya, Irina* 
Shprits, Yuri* 
Heilig, Balazs* 
Reda, Jan* 
Pietropaolo, Ermanno* 
Lichtenberger, János* 
Title: Study of the Average Ion Mass of the Dayside Magnetospheric Plasma
Journal: Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics 
Series/Report no.: /127 (2022)
Publisher: Wiley-AGU
Issue Date: 29-Sep-2022
DOI: 10.1029/2022JA030605
Abstract: The investigation of heavy ions dynamics and properties in the Earth's magnetosphere is still an important field of research as they play an important role in several space weather aspects. We present a statistical survey of the average ion mass in the dayside magnetosphere made comparing plasma mass density with electron number density measurements and focusing on both spatial and geomagnetic activity dependence. Field line resonance frequency observations across the European quasi-Meridional Magnetometer Array, are used to infer the equatorial plasma mass density in the range of magnetic L-shells 1.6–6.2. The electron number density is derived from local electric field measurements made on Van Allen Probes using the Neural-network-based Upper-hybrid Resonance Determination algorithm. The analysis is conducted separately for the plasmasphere and the plasmatrough during favorable periods for which both the plasma parameters are observed simultaneously. We found that throughout the plasmasphere the average ion mass is ≃1 amu for a wide range of geomagnetic activity conditions, suggesting that the plasma mainly consist of hydrogen ions, without regard to the level of geomagnetic activity. Conversely, the plasmatrough is characterized by a variable composition, highlighting a heavy ion mass loading that increases with increasing levels of geomagnetic disturbance. During the most disturbed conditions, the average radial structure shows a broad maximum around 3–4 Earth radii, probably correlated with the accumulation of oxygen ions near the plasmapause. Those ions are mostly observed in the post-dawn and pre-dusk longitudinal sectors.
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