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MSSL STFC Consolidated Grant (Auroral Acceleration Research with Cluster)
Understanding how charged particles in the magnetosphere gain sufficient energy to excite ionospheric particles to produce the aurora and how charged particles in the ionosphere are extracted into the magnetosphere are two long-standing problems in space plasma physics. Studies using in-situ data from single spacecraft missions have shown that these particles are accelerated along the magnetic field by magnetic-field-aligned electric potential drops or wave electric fields, in violation of ideal magnetohydrodynamics (MHD). In this research project, we aim to answer the following key questions in auroral research: (i) What is the structure of the quasi-static auroral acceleration region and how does it form? (ii) What is the role of kinetic Alfvén waves in the auroral acceleration process? (iii) How is auroral acceleration linked to global magnetospheric activity?
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