Small scale structure and transport during magnetopause magnetic reconnection:
from Cluster to MMS.

ISSI international team 307

Abstract | Team members and affiliations | Project schedule | Meeting agendas | Team publications | Team area (password protected)


This proposal is designed to investigate small-scale structure and transport induced by magnetic reconnection (MR) in the Earth’s magnetosphere; focusing on the dayside magnetopause. Magnetic reconnection is one of the most fundamental processes controlling the interaction of planetary magnetospheres with the solar wind. In particular, the dynamics of reconnection are strongly influenced by small-scale processes occurring within the diffusion region, and in the (larger scale) sub-layers which separate inflowing and out-flowing plasma (the separatrices, forming an X-line). The dayside magnetopause provides a special context for the operation of MR under asymmetric conditions driven by the solar wind. Over the last decade, data from the four-spacecraft Cluster mission have demonstrated the key importance of multi-spacecraft analysis in deciphering the structure, and thus the physics, of magnetic reconnection. In 2015, NASA will launch the four-spacecraft MMS mission, whose primary goal is also to study small-scale reconnection structure and transport, but with better spatial and temporal resolution to access the very small electron, as well as the (larger) ion, diffusion regions. This is achieved via a tetrahedral constellation which will be much smaller than the Cluster tetrahedron. It is also hoped that a reconfiguration of the 3 Themis magnetospheric spacecraft, in order to establish a larger scale array surrounding MMS, will be achievable.  In preparation for these MMS (and possible joint Themis) operations, and to transfer knowledge and understanding from the Cluster community to MMS, we propose here a team expert in both reconnection physics and four-spacecraft analysis to address two specific goals:

1. Examine Cluster observations of reconnection on the dayside magnetopause, and establish the likely signatures that will be observed by MMS,
2. Review and collate all the Cluster four-spacecraft techniques and determine how these techniques can be used by MMS with its much smaller tetrahedron.

To achieve goal #1, the team intends to use existing multi-point Cluster observations of transient structures at the magnetopause to access small or meso-spatial scales at highest cadence. Multi-point technique diagnosis and development tailored to the study of reconnection will underpin the analysis and will additionally provide information on the larger scale context. In addition numerical simulations, for the particular conditions of selected events, will be used to provide information on expected behaviour suitable for testing the MMS capability. The team will thus probe MR related phenomena by investigating the microphysics of the MR X-line and the plasma structure and field topology of the dayside boundary layer, cusp and reconnected flux ropes.
Regarding goal #2, key relevant multi-spacecraft techniques, for which the originators are on the team, have already had interest from the MMS project (see letter of support in Appendix B). The team membership has been chosen so as to enable a full 360 degree review of four spacecraft analysis based on demonstrated experience, knowledge and use of these techniques. The proposed team is thus uniquely placed to review and collate Cluster 4-spacecraft techniques and determine how these techniques can be used by MMS with its smaller tetrahedron.
The work will involve the many instruments onboard Cluster, as well as knowledge of MMS mission parameters, available via the Co-I status of the team members and through access to the Cluster Active Archive. All the data needed for the study is already available and the team members have already worked on a number of key events to prepare for further analysis. The conclusion of the team activities will involve the drafting of one or more papers on the work carried out, generated through a well tried formula for the organization of the team (used for previous successful and productive ISSI international teams). It is proposed to conduct the study over three meetings held at five to six monthly intervals. We anticipate that our team activities will enable a significant focused transfer of knowledge from Cluster to MMS.
Research Domain: Space Sciences (Space Plasma and Magnetospheric Physics)

Team members and affiliations

Prof. Malcolm W. Dunlop (Team leader), SSI, Beihang University,100191, Beijing, China & RAL_Space, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, DIDCOT, Oxfordshire, OX11 0QX, UK 
Dr. Jonathan Eastwood (deputy), The Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College London, SW7 2AZ, UK
Dr. Andrew Walsh (ESA rep.) , Science Operations Department, SRE-OS, Rm: Db137, ESTEC, European Space Agency, Keplerlaan 1,2201AZ, Noordwijk ZH, The Netherlands
Prof. Zuyin Pu, School of Earth and Space Sciences, Peking University, 5, Yiheyuan Street, 100871 Beijing, China
Professor. Chao Shen, Center for Space Science and Applied Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, P.O.Box 8701, 100080 Beijing, China
Dr. Robert Fear, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK
Dr. Quanqi Shi, School of Space Science and physics, Shandong University at Weihai, 180 Wenhua Xi Road, Weihai, Shandong 264209, China
Dr. Yulia Bogdanova, Space Sciences Division, SSTD, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, DIDCOT, Oxfordshire, OX11 0QX, UK
Dr. Yuri Khotyaintsev, Swedish Institute of Space Physics, Box 537, SE-751 21, Uppsala, Sweden
Dr. Karlheinz Trattner, LASP University of Colorado, 3665 Discovery Dr., Boulder, CO  80303-7820
Prof. Martin Goldman, Campus Box 390, Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA

External members: (self-supporting team members)
Dr. Alessandro Retinò, Laboratoire de Physique des Plasmas - CNRS École Polytechnique, 91128 Palaiseau CEDEX, France
Dr. Chijie Xiao, School of Physics, Peking University, No.5, Yiheyuan Street, 100871 Beijing, China
Dr. Thomas E Moore, Heliophysics Science Division, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Mail code 670, Bldg. 21-134, Greenbelt, MD 20771 USA

Project schedule

Meeting 1: 11 - 14 November 2014

Meeting 2: 26 - 30 October 2015

Meeting agendas

The final schedule and action items from meeting 1 can be found here. The presentations from that meeting can be found here. (NB both links are password protected).

The provisional schedule for meeting 2 can be found here (also password protected).

Team publications

Publications by team members will be listed here

Team area (password protected)

To access the password protected team area, click here