Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission:Cross-scale Exploration of Complexity in the Magnetosphere

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in "Nonequilibrium Phenomena in Plasmas", edited by A. Surjalal Sharma and Predhiman K. Kaw, Springer, 2005.



The physical processes in the magnetosphere span a wide range of space and time scales and due to the strong cross-scale coupling among them the fundamental processes at the smallest scales are critical to the large scale processes. For example, many key features of magnetic reconnection and particle acceleration are initiated at the smallest scales, typically the ion gyro-radii, and then couples to meso-scale and macro-scale processes, such as plasmoid formation. The Magnetospheric Muliscale (MMS) mission is a multi spacecraft mission dedicated to the study of plasma physics at the smallest scales and their cross-scale coupling to global processes. Driven by the turbulent solar wind, the magnetosphere is far from equilibrium and exhibits complex behavior over many scales. The processes underlying the multi-scale and intermittent features in the magnetosphere are fundamental to sun-earth connection. Recent results from the four spacecraft Cluster and earlier missions have provided new insights into magnetospheric physics and will form the basis for comprehensive studies of the multi-dimensional properties of the plasma processes and their inter-relationships. MMS mission will focus on the boundary layers connecting the magnetospheric regions and provide detailed spatio-temporal data of processes such as magnetic reconnection, thin current sheets, turbulence and particle acceleration. The cross-scale exploration by MMS mission will target the microphysics that will enable the discovery of the chain of processes underlying sun-earth connection.