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On the role of ULF waves in the spatial and temporal periodicity of energetic electron precipitation
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  • Xiaofei Shi,
  • Xiaojia Zhang,
  • Anton V Artemyev,
  • Vassilis Angelopoulos,
  • Michael D. Hartinger,
  • Ethan Tsai,
  • Colin Wilkins
Xiaofei Shi

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Xiaojia Zhang
University of Texas at Dallas
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Anton V Artemyev
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Vassilis Angelopoulos
University of California Los Angeles
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Michael D. Hartinger
Space Science Institute
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Ethan Tsai
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Colin Wilkins
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Energetic electron precipitation to the Earth’s atmosphere is a key process controlling radiation belt dynamics and magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. One of the main drivers of precipitation is electron resonant scattering by whistler-mode waves. Low-altitude observations of such precipitation often reveal quasi-periodicity in the ultra-low-frequency (ULF) range associated with whistler-mode waves, causally linked to ULF-modulated equatorial electron flux and its anisotropy. Conjunctions between ground-based instruments and equatorial spacecraft show that low-altitude precipitation concurrent with equatorial whistler-mode waves also exhibits a spatial periodicity as a function of latitude over a large spatial region. Whether this spatial periodicity might also be due to magnetospheric ULF waves spatially modulating electron fluxes and whistler-mode chorus has not been previously addressed due to a lack of conjunctions between equatorial spacecraft, LEO spacecraft, and ground-based instruments. To examine this question, we combine ground-based and equatorial observations magnetically conjugate to observations of precipitation at the low-altitude, polar-orbiting CubeSats ELFIN-A and -B. As they sequentially cross the outer radiation belt with a temporal separation of minutes to tens of minutes, they can easily reveal the spatial quasi-periodicity of electron precipitation. Our combined datasets confirm that ULF waves may modulate whistler-mode wave generation within a large MLT and $L$-shell domain in the equatorial magnetosphere, and thus lead to significant aggregate energetic electron precipitation exhibiting both temporal and spatial periodicity. Our results suggest that the coupling between ULF and whistler-mode waves is important for outer radiation belt dynamics.