Magnetospheric Physics

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Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission results throughout the first primary mission phase

The Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission was launched March 15, 2015 with the goal of studying the microphysics of magnetic reconnection. During its second day-side pass, the inter-spacecraft separation was reduced to as little as 7km, or 2-3 electron skin depths at the magnetopause, allowing electron-scale physics to be spatially resolved and investigated. The unprecedented temporal resolution of the fields and particle instrument suites has advanced our understanding of dynamical processes from the bowshock, through the magnetosheath, across the magnetopause and into the inner magnetosphere and magnetotail. This special issue expands upon discoveries made during the first day-side and tail passes, and provides in-depth reports of new findings from the second day-side pass.

Inner magnetosphere coupling: Recent advances

Last updated:
6 June 2017
Organizers: Yuri Shprits and Maria Usanova

The dynamics of the inner magnetosphere is strongly governed by the interactions between different plasma populations that are coupled through large-scale electric and magnetic field, currents and wave-particle interactions. Inner magnetosphere plasma undergoes self-consistent interactions with global electric and magnetic fields. Waves excited in the inner magnetosphere from unstable particle distributions can provide energy exchange between different particle populations in the inner magnetosphere and affect the ring current and radiation belt dynamics. The ionosphere serves as an energy sink and feedbacks the magnetosphere through the cold plasma outflow. The precipitating inner magnetospheric particles influence the ionosphere and upper atmospheric chemistry and can have an effect on climate. Satellite measurements and theoretical studies have advanced our understanding of the dynamics of various plasma populations in the inner magnetosphere. However, our understanding of the coupling processes among the plasmasphere, ring current, radiation belts, magnetic field, and waves is still incomplete.

This special issue includes modeling and observational contributions addressing interactions within different plasma populations in the inner magnetosphere (plasmasphere, ring current, radiation belts), coupling between fields and plasma populations, as well as effects of the inner magnetosphere on the ionosphere and atmosphere.

Unsolved Problems in Magnetospheric Physics

This special section highlights unsolved problems in magnetospheric physics following a workshop on this topic held in Scarborough, UK, in September 2015 (UPMP). The current state of magnetospheric physics is vibrant with a number of ongoing and highly-successful missions (e.g. Van Allen Probes, Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, etc.) currently uncovering new physical processes at work in the Earth's magnetosphere. Along with ground-based observations, theory, and other satellite observations (both at Earth and in the wider solar-system) our understanding of solar-wind/magnetosphere interactions is being transformed. In this Special Section we solicit original research papers, and commentaries, on the most salient research questions still to be addressed by the community. Our ultimate aim is to stimulate research efforts on these topics and thus advance our understanding of magnetospheric physics in general.

Guest Editor: Michael Denton, Space Science Institute, New Mexico Consortium

Pulsating Aurora and Related Magnetospheric Phenomena

Last updated:
13 June 2016
Pulsating aurora (PsA) is one of the major classes of aurora, which almost always appears during the recovery phase of substorms. Since the 1960s, PsA have been extensively studied by using ground-based observations combined with satellite measurements. Still, however, the underlying processes creating auroral pulsations remain to be understood. In addition, it is still unclear what factors actually control the spatial structure and temporal evolution of PsA. Because of these, vast numbers of ground-based radio and optical instruments have been employed during the last decade to better observe the dynamic nature of PsA. In addition, there are several on-going and planned ground-based and satellite (THEMIS, VAP, ERG) collaborations aimed at understanding the electromagnetic coupling between magnetospheric processes (whistler mode chorus and ECH waves) and PsA seen on the ground. This special section focuses on observational (ground-based/satellites), theoretical and modeling aspects of PsA, including physics of diffuse aurora, and related phenomena in the magnetosphere, e.g., wave-particle interactions.

Fundamental Properties and Processes of Magnetotails

1 July 2014
A. Keiling
All magnetized planets in our solar system (Mercury, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) interact strongly with the solar wind and possess well developed magnetotails. It is not only the strongly magnetized planets that have magnetotails. Mars and Venus have no global intrinsic magnetic field, yet they possess induced magnetotails. Magnetotails are the site of many dynamic processes critical to the transport of mass, momentum, energy and magnetic flux, and the acceleration of charged particles. This Special Section brings together a collection of papers on fundamental properties and processes of magnetotails.