Auroral-Particle Precipitation and Trapping Caused by Electrostatic Double Layers in the Ionosphere

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Science  25 Dec 1970:
Vol. 170, Issue 3965, pp. 1398-1401
DOI: 10.1126/science.170.3965.1398


Interpretation of high-resolution angular distribution measurements of the primary auroral electron flux detected by a rocket probe launched into a visible aurora from Fort Churchill in the fall of 1966 leads to the following conclusions. The auroral electron flux is nearly monoenergetic and has a quasi-trapped as well as a precipitating component. The quasi-trapped flux appears to be limited to a region defined by magnetic-mirror points and multiple electrostatic double layers in the ionosphere. The electrostatic field of the double-layer distribution enhances the aurora by lowering the magnetic-mirror points and supplying energy to the primary auroral electrons.