Solar wind observations over Ulysses' first full polar orbit

D. J. McComas, B. L. Barraclough, H. O. Funsten, J. T. Gosling, E. Santiago-Muñoz, R. M. Skoug, B. E. Goldstein, M. Neugebauer, P. Riley, A. Balogh

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402 Scopus citations


This study examines solar wind plasma and magnetic field observations from Ulysses' first full polar orbit in order to characterize the high-latitude solar wind under conditions of decreasing and low solar activity. By comparing observations taken over nearly all heliolatitudes and two different intervals covering the same radial distances, we are able to separate the radial and latitudinal variations in the solar wind. We find that once the radial gradients are removed, none of the high-latitude solar wind parameters show much latitudinal variation, indicating that the solar wind emanating from the polar coronal holes is extremely uniform. In addition, by examining nearly 6 years of data starting in the declining phase of the last solar cycle and extending through the most recent solar minimum, we are able to address hemispheric asymmetries in the observations. We find that these asymmetries are most likely driven by differences in the solar wind source over the solar cycle and indicate that more energy goes into the polar solar wind during the declining phase of the solar cycle than around minimum. Because the mass flux is larger in the declining phase while the speeds are very similar, we conclude that this energy is introduced at an altitude below the solar wind acceleration critical point. Finally, we provide details of the statistics of over 20 solar wind parameters so that upcoming observations from Ulysses' second polar orbit, during much more active times on the Sun, can be readily compared to the quieter first orbit results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1999JA000383
Pages (from-to)10419-10433
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue numberA5
StatePublished - May 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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