Cross-scale Measurements of Space Plasmas to Explore Magnetic Reconnection

Image Credit: NASA



Magnetic Reconnection refers to conversion of magnetic energy into particle energy as two magnetic field lines tangle and “reconnect” in the plasma. Magnetic reconnection is a fundamental process in the solar atmosphere, astrophysical systems, the laboratory plasmas and the terrestrial magnetosphere. It is the central question regarding energy transfer in the solar-terrestrial connection.     

The in-situ measurement is crucial to understanding magnetic reconnection. Our Earth’s magnetosphere is an ideal laboratory for in-situ detection of magnetic reconnection. Thanks to ESA’s Cluster mission, NASA’s THEMIS mission and MMS mission, these spacecraft missions provides precious  measurements on the electron-kinetic scale (MMS), the ion-kinetic scale (Cluster), or the Macro-scale (THEMIS) of magnetic reconnection. However, we still lack an unified picture of the mechanism and consequence of magnetic reconnection on these fundamental spacial scales of plasmas. Investigations of important questions such as when magnetic reconnection occurs (the onset problem) rely on simultaneous measurements of electron-ion-macro scales.      

Since 2016, the national space science center (NSSC) started to carry out concept studies on a mission proposal named "Self-Adaptive Magnetic Reconnection Microscope Mission" (SAMRM). SAMRM aims to make simultaneous and self-adaptive measurements of plasmas at electron-ion-macro scales with a fleet of 12+ cubesats and one mother satellite. The proposed SAMRM is currently in the pre-phase-A in the Strategic Priority Research Program on Space Science II, Chinese Academy of Sciences.   


Since the proposed constellation mission using multiple cubsats, in addition to the main satellite, will have the capability of measuring reconnection related plasmas and fields simultaneously at the electro-ion scales as well as at several MACRO scales, we believe that such a capability will represent an important advance in magnetospheric reconnection research. Although the reconnection physics at the electron-ion scales is an important subject for investigation, as shown by the CLUSTER, THEMIS and MMS missions, the reconnection processes and structures defined at several MACRO scales are expected to finally define the main magnetospheric plasmas and fields changes due to reconnection.   

The main aim of this ISSI-BJ forum is to gather input from the space physics community on the science goals for future investigations of magnetic reconnection. We would like to elucidate the importance of science questions of magnetic reconnection and space plasma physics that can be resolved by the proposed new mission in combination with other existing missions (Cluster, THEMIS, MMS, SWARM, etc). The proposed new mission is also open for international collaborations.  

The forum will cover the following main themes:

  • Overview of magnetic reconnection
  • Overview of Constellation missions
  • Cross-scale Science of Magnetic Reconnection
  • Cross-scale Science in the solar-terrestrial connection
  • Discussions on mission profiles and International Collaborations

Date: 5-6 September 2019


Walter Gonzalez INPE, Brazilian Academy of Science, Brazil
Vytenis Vasyliunas Max Planck Institute, Germany
Wang Chi NSSC, CAS, China
Dai Lei NSSC, CAS, China
Malcolm Dunlop RAL and BUAA, UK and China
Philippe Escoubet ESTEC, ESA
Vassilis Angelopoulos UCLA, United States
Giovanni Lapenta  KU Leuven, Belgium
Tai Phan UC Berkeley, US
Larry Kepko NASA/GSFC, US
Alessandro Retino LPP, école Polytechnique, France
Michael Hesse University of Bergen, Norway
Maurizio Falanga ISSI-BJ, China 

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