Bitterroot Basic Research

Hamilton, MT, United States

Bitterroot Basic Research

Hamilton, MT, United States
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Goldstein M.L.,NASA | Escoubet P.,European Space Agency | Hwang K.-J.,NASA | Hwang K.-J.,University of Maryland Baltimore County | And 11 more authors.
Journal of Plasma Physics | Year: 2015

Plasmas are ubiquitous in nature, surround our local geospace environment, and permeate the universe. Plasma phenomena in space give rise to energetic particles, the aurora, solar flares and coronal mass ejections, as well as many energetic phenomena in interstellar space. Although plasmas can be studied in laboratory settings, it is often difficult, if not impossible, to replicate the conditions (density, temperature, magnetic and electric fields, etc.) of space. Single-point space missions too numerous to list have described many properties of near-Earth and heliospheric plasmas as measured both in situ and remotely (see for a list of NASA-related missions). However, a full description of our plasma environment requires three-dimensional spatial measurements. Cluster is the first, and until data begin flowing from the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS), the only mission designed to describe the three-dimensional spatial structure of plasma phenomena in geospace. In this paper, we concentrate on some of the many plasma phenomena that have been studied using data from Cluster. To date, there have been more than 2000 refereed papers published using Cluster data but in this paper we will, of necessity, refer to only a small fraction of the published work. We have focused on a few basic plasma phenomena, but, for example, have not dealt with most of the vast body of work describing dynamical phenomena in Earth's magnetosphere, including the dynamics of current sheets in Earth's magnetotail and the morphology of the dayside high latitude cusp. Several review articles and special publications are available that describe aspects of that research in detail and interested readers are referred to them (see for example, Escoubet et al. 2005 Multiscale Coupling of Sun-Earth Processes, p. 459, Keith et al. 2005 Sur. Geophys. 26, 307-339, Paschmann et al. 2005 Outer Magnetospheric Boundaries: Cluster Results, Space Sciences Series of ISSI. Berlin: Springer, Goldstein et al. 2006 Adv. Space Res. 38, 21-36, Taylor et al. 2010 The Cluster Mission: Space Plasma in Three Dimensions, Springer, pp. 309-330 and Escoubet et al. 2013 Ann. Geophys. 31, 1045-1059). © Cambridge University Press 2015.

Gurgiolo C.,Bitterroot Basic Research | Goldstein M.L.,NASA | Vinas A.F.,NASA | Fazakerley A.N.,University College London
Annales Geophysicae | Year: 2012

Observations of a continual erosion of the strahl and build up of the halo with distance from the sun suggests that, at least in part, the halo may be formed as a result of scattering of the strahl. This hypothesis is supported in this paper by observation of intense scattering of strahl electrons, which gives rise to a proto-halo electron population. This population eventually merges into, or becomes the halo. The fact that observations of intense scattering of the strahl are not common implies that the formation of the halo may not be a continuous process, but one that occurs, in part, in bursts in regions where the conditions responsible for the scattering are optimum. © Author(s) 2012. CC Attribution 3.0 License.

Gurgiolo C.,Bitterroot Basic Research | Goldstein M.L.,NASA | Vinas A.F.,NASA | Fazakerley A.N.,University College London
Annales Geophysicae | Year: 2010

We describe the methodology used to set up and compute spatial derivatives of the electron moments using data acquired by the Plasma Electron And Current Experiment (PEACE) from the four Cluster spacecraft. The results are used to investigate electron vorticity in the foreshock. We find that much of the measured vorticity, under nominal conditions, appears to be caused by changes in the flow direction of the return (either reflected or leakage from the magnetosheath) and strahl electron populations as they couple to changes in the magnetic field orientation. This in turn results in deflections in the total bulk velocity producing the measured vorticity. © 2010 Author(s).

Servidio S.,University of Calabria | Gurgiolo C.,Bitterroot Basic Research | Carbone V.,University of Calabria | Goldstein M.L.,NASA
Astrophysical Journal Letters | Year: 2014

Based on global conservation principles, magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) relaxation theory predicts the existence of several equilibria, such as the Taylor state or global dynamic alignment. These states are generally viewed as very long-time and large-scale equilibria, which emerge only after the termination of the turbulent cascade. As suggested by hydrodynamics and by recent MHD numerical simulations, relaxation processes can occur during the turbulent cascade that will manifest themselves as local patches of equilibrium-like configurations. Using multi-spacecraft analysis techniques in conjunction with Cluster data, we compute the current density and flow vorticity and for the first time demonstrate that these localized relaxation events are observed in the solar wind. Such events have important consequences for the statistics of plasma turbulence. © 2014. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved..

F-Vinas A.,NASA | Gurgiolo C.,Bitterroot Basic Research | Nieves-Chinchilla T.,NASA | Gary S.P.,Los Alamos National Laboratory | Goldstein M.L.,NASA
AIP Conference Proceedings | Year: 2010

Observed properties of the strahl using high resolution 3D electron velocity distribution data obtained from the Cluster/PEACE experiment are used to investigate its linear stability. An automated method to isolate the strahl is used to allow its moments to be computed independent of the solar wind core+halo. Results show that the strahl can have a high temperature anisotropy (T⊥/T∥≳2). This anisotropy is shown to be an important free energy source for the excitation of high frequency whistler waves. The analysis suggests that the resultant whistler waves are strong enough to regulate the electron velocity distributions in the solar wind through pitch-angle scattering. © 2010 American Institute of Physics.

Gurgiolo C.,Bitterroot Basic Research | Goldstein M.L.,NASA | Vinas A.F.,NASA | Matthaeus W.H.,University of Delaware | Fazakerley A.N.,University College London
Annales Geophysicae | Year: 2011

From a limited number of observations it appears that vorticity is a common feature in the inner plasma sheet. With the four Cluster spacecraft and the four PEACE instruments positioned in a tetrahedral configuration, for the first time it is possible to directly estimate the electron fluid vorticity in a space plasma. We show examples of electron fluid vorticity from multiple plasma sheet crossings. These include three time periods when Cluster passed through a reconnection ion diffusion region. Enhancements in vorticity are seen in association with each crossing of the ion diffusion region. © Author(s) 2011.

Gurgiolo C.,Bitterroot Basic Research | Goldstein M.L.,NASA | Matthaeus W.H.,University of Delaware | Vinas A.,NASA | Fazakerley A.N.,University College London
Annales Geophysicae | Year: 2013

The Taylor microscale is one of the fundamental turbulence scales. Not easily estimated in the interplanetary medium employing single spacecraft data, it has generally been studied through two point correlations. In this paper we present an alternative, albeit mathematically equivalent, method for estimating the Taylor microscale (λT). We make two independent determinations employing multi-spacecraft data sets from the Cluster mission, one using magnetic field data and a second using electron velocity data. Our results using the magnetic field data set yields a scale length of 1538 ± 550 km, slightly less than, but within the same range as, values found in previous magnetic-field-based studies. During time periods where both magnetic field and electron velocity data can be used, the two values can be compared. Relative comparisons show λT computed from the velocity is often significantly smaller than that from the magnetic field data. Due to a lack of events where both measurements are available, the absolute λT based on the electron fluid velocity is not able to be determined. © Author(s) 2013. CC Attribution 3.0 License.

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