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At least a dozen well-defined activations were recorded with high spatial resolution during the first 25 min of a substorm commencing at 1959 UT on 3 March 1976. The activations were determined by Pi1 and 2-type magnetic pulsations, magnetic variations and cosmic noise absorption. The activations exhibited differences in intensity, spatial extent and the accompanied auroral behaviour. In all cases but one an impulsive counterclockwise differential equivalent current vortex was observed superimposed on the continuously growing westward electrojet. The high-energy particle precipitation reached its maximum in these vortex regions. In cases where the activations observed on the ground occurred close to the footpoint of the IMP-J satellite, it registered simultaneously (within 2 min) burstlike enhancements of the high-energy particle fluxes. The satellite was at these times 37 RE away from the Earth in the plasma sheet boundary layer. Large, practically isotropic high-energy electron fluxes detected at the satellite during the substorm expansion suggested the existence of a large-scale magnetic loop structure in the far magnetotail. The results give evidence of a time-varying dissipation process operating in an impulsive manner in separate regions of the plasma sheet (within a few RE). According to the magnetic variations at mid-latitude, the intensity of the cross-tail current disruption (or the substorm current wedge) does not respond to these activations in the same impulsive manner, but seems to integrate their effects.
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