Spacecraft Measurements of Plasma Turbulence and Instabilities

Research Group: 
Astronomy Unit
Length of Study in Years: 
Full-time Project: 
QM Scholarship
Project Description: 
The solar wind is one of the few astrophysical systems that can be measured in situ, presenting an unprecedented opportunity to investigate the fundamental plasma processes occurring throughout the universe. It displays a rich variety of complex behaviour that is not fully understood, and turbulence – the nonlinear chaotic motions that transfer energy from large to small scales – is one of the most ubiquitous but least understood aspects of this behaviour. In this project, cutting-edge high-resolution data from the NASA Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft (launched 2015) will be analysed to investigate this turbulence – in particular its universal properties, interaction with other processes such as plasma instabilities, and their macroscopic effects on space and astrophysical systems. These effects, such as heating and structure generation, are central to many unsolved problems in plasma astrophysics. The project may also involve theoretical/simulation work, and data from upcoming missions, such as Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter.
SPA Academics: 
Christopher Chen