Satellite drag effects due to uplifted oxygen neutrals during super magnetic storms
Abstract. During intense magnetic storms, prompt penetration electric fields (PPEFs) through E × B forces near the magnetic equator uplift the dayside ionosphere. This effect has been called the
dayside super-fountain effect. Ion-neutral drag forces between the upward moving O+ (oxygen ions) and oxygen neutrals will elevate the oxygen atoms to higher altitudes. This paper gives a linear calculation indicating how serious the effect may be during an 1859-type (Carrington) superstorm. It is concluded that the oxygen neutral densities produced at low-Earth-orbiting (LEO) satellite altitudes may be sufficiently high to present severe satellite drag. It is estimated that with a prompt penetrating electric field of ∼ 20 mV m−1 turned on for 20 min, the O atoms and O+ ions are uplifted to 850 km where they produce about 40-times-greater satellite drag per unit mass than normal. Stronger electric fields will presumably lead to greater uplifted mass.