PATCH: Particle Arrival Time Correlation for Heliophysics

J. L. Verniero, G. G. Howes, D. E. Stewart, K. G. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The ability to understand the fundamental nature of the physics that governs the heliosphere requires spacecraft instrumentation to measure energy transfer at kinetic scales. This translates to a time cadence resolving the proton kinetic timescales, typically of the order of the proton gyrofrequency. The downlinked survey-mode data from modern spacecraft are often much lower resolution than this criterion, meaning that the higher resolution, burst-mode data must be captured to study an event at kinetic time scales. Telemetry restrictions, however, prohibit a sizable fraction of this burst-mode data from being downlinked to the ground. The field-particle correlation (FPC) technique can quantify kinetic-scale energy transfer between electromagnetic fields and charged particles and identify the mechanisms responsible for mediating the transfer. In this study, we adapt the FPC technique for calculating wave-particle energy transfer onboard modern spacecraft using time-tagged particle counts simultaneous with electromagnetic field measurements. The newly developed procedure, called Particle Arrival Time Correlation for Heliophysics (PATCH), is tested using synthetic spacecraft data, where output from a gyrokinetic plasma turbulence simulation was downsampled to Parker Solar Probe (PSP) energy-angle resolution. We assess the ability of the PATCH algorithm to recover the qualitative and quantitative features of the resulting velocity-space signatures, such as ion-Landau damping, that can be used to distinguish different kinetic mechanisms of particle energization. Ultimately, we demonstrate a proof-of-concept that the PATCH method could enable calculations of onboard wave-particle correlations, with the intent of enhancing spacecraft data return by several orders of magnitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020JA028940
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • plasma turbulence
  • solar Wind
  • spacecraft Instrumentation
  • wave-particle interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics


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