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Forecasting Earth's magnetopause, magnetosheath, and bow shock

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1 Author(s)
Song, P. ; Space Phys. Res. Lab., Michigan Univ., Ann Arbor, MI, USA

The magnetopause and bow shock are two of the most important discontinuities in near Earth space, separating three distinct plasma regimes: the solar wind, magnetosheath, and the magnetosphere. Both discontinuities are sensitive to the solar wind conditions. They change their shape and location in space in response to upstream solar wind variations. Prediction of the location of a satellite relative to these two boundaries helps satellite operators to be prepared for major changes in plasma condition. The physical conditions near the magnetopause are useful information for magnetospheric models. Over the past decades, our observational knowledge and physical understanding of these regions have been advanced significantly. We have developed the capability of prediction. The location of the magnetopause and its dependence on the upstream conditions can be relatively accurately predicted. Prediction models have been tested extensively. The success rate is extremely high and the false-alarm rate is relatively low. A magnetosheath prediction model has been developed and tested. Some of the magnetosheath quantities can often be predicted fairly accurately. Others may have slightly larger errors. Further tests and scientific investigations of the causes of these errors are under way. Our ability to predict the location of the bow shock is very limited. More research is needed

Published in:

Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:28 ,  Issue: 6 )