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Date of Award

Fall 2009

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering Physics

Department

Physical Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Irfan Azeem

Committee Member

Dr. Bereket Berhane

Committee Member

Dr. John Hughes

Committee Member

Dr. Katariina Nykyri

Abstract

The topic of solar wind - magnetosphere - ionosphere coupling has become increasingly important in recent years, as it deals with the energy transfer from the Sun to the Earth. The solar wind plasma has direct entry into Earth's ionosphere at the polar cusp. At the cusp Earth's magnetic fields lines are open and connect .directly to the magnetic field lines of the solar wind. The energy from the solar wind particles precipitating into the ionosphere are dissipated as the aurora. The purpose of this thesis was to present case studies of the coupled relationship between the periodic fluctuations in the interplanetary magnetic field and the auroral emissions of southern hemisphere dayside polar cusp. The specific emissions used are the 6300 A and 8446 A, as these are due to direct electron impact. Data was obtained via a meridian scanning photometer, CCD spectrograph, and NASA's WIND & ACE satellites. The wavelet power spectrums of the auroral emissions and satellite data were compared to identify events of interest. The observed time lags from the power spectrums were then compared to the calculated time lags. There were 6 events on 4 days, May 6 2008, May 10 2007, August 14 2006, and August 15 2006. Location relative to the ecliptic plane appeared to be of importance. For all events the satellites were never further than 13 RE from the ecliptic plane. The observed time lag can be reasonably explained by the physical travel time it takes the solar wind plasma to reach the polar cusp ionosphere. The confidence levels on the power spectrums ranged from 60% to as high as 99.98%.

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