Equator-S observations of drift mirror mode waves in the dawnside magnetosphere

I. Jonathan Rae*, Ian R. Mann, Clare E.J. Watt, Lynn M. Kistler, Wolfgang Baumjohann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


The mirror mode is a plasma instability that is typically excited in high-beta plasmas where there is significant pressure anisotropy and is most commonly observed in the magnetosheath. However, it is possible under sufficiently anisotropic conditions to generate the mirror instability inside the magnetosphere, though as yet there are few examples. We present an extended interval of ∼7 hours of mirror mode activity on 19 March 1998 when the Equator-S spacecraft was traversing the dawnside magnetosphere above the equatorial plane at radial distances of up to L ∼ 11 and encountered quasi-monochromatic ∼2-min oscillations in magnetic field and ion number density, temperature, and velocity. The magnetic field strength and number densities were in antiphase, and the plasma and magnetic field pressure perturbations were also in antiphase while the observed total pressure remained constant. This is consistent with excitation via a mirror instability. We are able to discern that the mirror activity must be confined to approximately within ±20° of the equatorial plane through a conjunction with the Geotail spacecraft. We find that the condition for mirror mode waves to grow is strongly met throughout the interval (Hasegawa, 1969). We believe that this is an excellent high temporal resolution example of the mirror instability exciting ULF waves inside the Earth's magnetosphere. Given the coexistence of toroidal oscillations at almost the same frequency, we suggest coupling between the mirror mode and local standing Alfvén waves. Our observations hence add to the understanding of how energy can be transferred from hot plasma into ULF waves in the magnetosphere before being dissipated in the ionosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA11203
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2007
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Equator-S observations of drift mirror mode waves in the dawnside magnetosphere'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this