Challenges and the next transformative steps in understanding plasma turbulence from the perspective of multi-spacecraft measurements

Academic Article


  • We have become heavily reliant on electrical technologies, from power grids to GPS to wireless communication. Any disruption of these systems will have severe global consequences. A major natural hazard for such electrical disruption is caused by solar wind disturbances that have dramatic geospace impact.Estimates are that a solar storm of the magnitude of the 1859 Carrington Solar Superstorm would cause over $2 trillion in damage today. In July 23, 2012, we had a near miss of a solar Superstorm that could have broken the record of largest such storms at Earth. To enable pre-emptive measures, developing accurate space weather forecasts is urgent. At the core of space weather forecasts is plasma physics, and kinetic turbulence, in particular. For example, the intense turbulence stirred up at the bow shock and foreshock have been shown to open up pathways for high velocity solar wind parcels to bypass the protective shield of the terrestrial magnetosphere and create disturbances in the ionosphere and lower atmosphere. A primary challenge in understanding kinetic turbulence and its global implications is its multi-scale nature, spanning from electron scales to macro scales of the magnetosphere. Current four-spacecraft missions with 3D formations, the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) and Cluster, have made progress in our understanding of such turbulence. Yet the limitation of a fixed spacecraft formation size at a given time prohibits probing the multi-scale nature as well as the dynamical evolution of the phenomena. A transformative leap in our understanding of turbulence is expected with in-situ probes populating a 3D volume and forming multiple 'n-hedrons (n > 4)' in MHD to kinetic scales.
  • Authors

  • Chen, Li-Jen
  • Bessho, Naoki
  • Bookbinder, Jay A
  • Caprioli, Damiano
  • Goldstein, Melvin
  • Ji, Hantao
  • Jian, Lan K
  • Karimabadi, Homa
  • Khotyaintsev, Yuri
  • Klein, Kristopher G
  • Lavraud, Benoit
  • Matthaeus, William
  • Moore, Thomas E
  • Retino, Alessandro
  • Roberts, Owen W
  • Roytershteyn, Vadim
  • Schiff, Conrad
  • Spence, Harlan
  • Stawarz, Julia
  • TenBarge, Jason
  • Wang, Shan
  • Keywords

  • physics.plasm-ph