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A Three-Dimensional Model of Pluto's Interaction With the Solar Wind During the New Horizons Encounter

Feyerabend, M. and Liuzzo, L. and Simon, Sven and Motschmann, U. (2017) A Three-Dimensional Model of Pluto's Interaction With the Solar Wind During the New Horizons Encounter. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, 122. Wiley. doi: 10.1002/2017JA024456. ISSN 2169-9380.

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We apply a hybrid (kinetic ions and fluid electrons) simulation model to study Pluto's plasma environment during the New Horizons encounter on 14 July 2015. We show that Pluto s plasma interaction is dominated by significant north-south asymmetries, driven by large pickup ion gyroradii on the order of 200 Pluto radii. The transition region from the ambient solar wind to the population of plutogenic ions (called the Plutopause) also shows considerable asymmetries that cannot be explained by a fluid picture. Since the New Horizons spacecraft does not carry a magnetometer, we use our model to estimate the strength and direction of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) at the time of the flyby by comparing output from the hybrid simulation to the plasma signatures observed during the New Horizons encounter. We find that an IMF strength of at least 0.24 nT is required to generate the observed plasma signatures. An IMF orientation either parallel or antiparallel to Pluto s orbital motion is able to explain the observed plasma densities and velocities along the New Horizons trajectory. Our simulations are able to quantitatively reproduce all key features of the plasma observations, specifically the gradual slowing of the solar wind, as well as the location and thickness of the Plutopause and bow shock.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/115999/
Document Type:Article
Title:A Three-Dimensional Model of Pluto's Interaction With the Solar Wind During the New Horizons Encounter
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthor's ORCID iD
Liuzzo, L.school of earth and atmospheric sciences, georgia institute of technology, atlanta, usaUNSPECIFIED
Simon, Sveninstitute of geophysics and meteorology, university of cologne, germanyUNSPECIFIED
Journal or Publication Title:Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
Keywords:Pluto, New Horizons, plasma environment, plasma interaction, solar wind
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Space Exploration
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EW - Space Exploration
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Exploration of the Solar System
Location: Berlin-Adlershof
Institutes and Institutions:Institute of Planetary Research > Asteroids and Comets
Deposited By: Schubert, Renate
Deposited On:27 Nov 2017 10:07
Last Modified:28 Feb 2023 14:45

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