Mirror Instabilities in the Inner Magnetosphere and Their Potential for Localized ULF Wave Generation

M. B. Cooper, A. J. Gerrard, L. J. Lanzerotti, A. R. Soto-Chavez, H. Kim, I. V. Kuzichev, L. V. Goodwin

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7 Scopus citations


Results from the NASA Van Allen Probes mission indicate extensive observations of mirror/drift-mirror (M/D-M hereafter) unstable plasma regions in the night-side inner magnetosphere. Said plasmas lie on the threshold between the kinetic and frozen-in plasma regimes and have favorable conditions for the formation of M/D-M modes and subsequent ultralow frequency (ULF) wave signatures in the surrounding plasma. We present the results of a climatological analysis of plasma-γ (anisotropy measure) and total plasma-β (ratio of particle to magnetic field pressure) in regard to the satisfaction of instability conditions on said M/D-M modes under bi-Maxwellian distribution assumption, and ascertain the most likely region for such plasmas to occur. Our results indicate a strong preference for the premidnight sector of the night-side magnetosphere, with events ranging in time scales from half a minute (roughly 200 km in scale size) to several hours (multiple Earth radii). The statistical distribution of these plasma regions explicitly identifies the source region of “storm time Pc5 ULF waves” and suggests an alternative mechanism for their generation in the night-side inner magnetosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020JA028773
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • ULF waves
  • inner magnetosphere
  • magnetotail injections
  • mirror mode unstable plasma


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