Student: Sadie Elliot, Graduate Student in Physics and Astronomy, University of Iowa
Faculty Advisor: Jasper Halekas
The generation of upward-propagating whistler-mode waves and their interactions with upward-moving energetic electrons in the Jovian polar cap region: Observations from the Juno spacecraft
I conduct data analysis on NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which is currently in polar orbit around Jupiter. I work under the supervision of Dr. Donald Gurnett (Professor emeritus), Dr. William Kurth (P.I. of Juno Waves), and Professor Jasper Halekas (academic advisor). I analyze wave-particle interactions in the Jovian polar and auroral regions. In particular, I look at how waves can be both generated by low-energy electrons [Elliott et al., JGR 2019], and play key roles in accelerating and pitch angle scattering high-energy electrons. The electrons were found to be directly correlated with the waves [Tetrick et al., GRL 2017], indicating they are likely candidates for wave-particle interactions. Direct evidence of both pitch angle scattering [Elliott et al., GRL 2018] and electron acceleration [Elliott et al., JGR 2018] was found. I’ve also proposed a theoretical mechanism for accelerating the electrons by the waves [Elliott et al., JGR 2018]. These studies are vital to our overall understanding of auroral processes at Jupiter. The aurora is created by particles, bombarding the atmosphere. Explaining how these particles are accelerated is key to understanding the underlying physics of this beautiful phenomenon. Studying the aurora in another environment (like Jupiter) can help us to understand whether the physics is correct. If terrestrial theories don’t work at Jupiter, we must alter the physics. Juno is roughly half-way through its main mission, meaning there is sufficient data to conduct a statistical study on these waves and electrons. This is my current area of research.