We present remote, continuous observations from the Interstellar Boundary Explorer of the terrestrial plasma sheet location back to -16 Earth radii (RE) in the magnetospheric tail using energetic neutral atom emissions. The time period studied includes two orbits near the winter and summer solstices, thus associated with large negative and positive dipole tilt, respectively. Continuous side-view images reveal a complex shape that is dominated mainly by large-scale warping due to the diurnal motion of the dipole axis. Superposed on the global warped geometry are short-time fluctuations in plasma sheet location that appear to be consistent with plasma sheet flapping and possibly twisting due to changes in the interplanetary conditions. We conclude that the plasma sheet warping due to the diurnal motion dominates the average shape of the plasma sheet. Over short times, the position of the plasma sheet can be dominated by twisting and flapping.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)
- plasma sheet imaging