Simultaneous rocket and scintillation observations of plasma irregularities associated with a reversed flow event in the cusp ionosphere
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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We present an overview of the ionospheric conditions during the launch of the Investigation of Cusp Irregularities 3 (ICI‐3) sounding rocket. ICI‐3 was launched from Ny‐Ålesund, Svalbard, at 7:21.31 UT on 3 December 2011. The objective of ICI‐3 was to intersect the reversed flow event (RFE), which is thought to be an important source for the rapid development of ionospheric irregularities in the cusp ionosphere. The interplanetary magnetic field was characterized by strongly negative Bz and weakly negative By. The EISCAT Svalbard radar (ESR) 32‐m beam was operating in a fast azimuth sweep mode between 180° (south) and 300° (northwest) at an elevation angle of 30°. The ESR observed a series of RFEs as westward flow channels that were opposed to the large‐scale eastward plasma flow in the prenoon sector. ICI‐3 intersected the first RFE in the ESR field of view and observed flow structures that were consistent with the ESR observations. Furthermore, ICI‐3 revealed finer‐scale flow structures inside the RFE. The high‐resolution electron density data show intense fluctuations at all scales throughout the RFE. The ionospheric pierce point of the GPS satellite PRN30, which was tracked at Hornsund, intersected the RFE at the same time. The GPS scintillation data show moderate phase scintillations and weak amplitude scintillations. A comparison of the power spectra reveals a good match between the ground‐based GPS carrier phase measurements and the spectral slope of the in situ electron density data in the lower frequency range. It demonstrates the possibility of modelling GPS scintillations from high‐resolution in situ electron density data.