The flow of plasma in the solar terrestrial environment
- Schunk, Robert W.
- JAN 1, 1991.
- Physical Description:
- 1 electronic document
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- The overall goal of our NASA Theory Program is to study the coupling, time delays, and feedback mechanisms between the various regions of the solar-terrestrial system in a self-consistent, quantitative, manner. To accomplish this goal, it will eventually be necessary to have time-dependent macroscopic models of the different regions of the solar-terrestrial system and we are continually working toward this goal. However, our immediate emphasis is on the near-earth plasma environment, including the ionosphere, the plasmasphere, and the polar wind. In this area, we have developed unique global models that allow us to study the coupling between the different regions. These results are highlighted. Another important aspect of our NASA Theory Program concerns the effect that localized structure has on the macroscopic flow in the ionosphere, plasmasphere, thermosphere and polar wind. The localized structure can be created by structured magnetospheric inputs (i.e., structured plasma convection, particle precipitation or Birkeland current patterns) or time variations in these inputs due to storms and substorms. Also, some of the plasma flows that we predict with our macroscopic models may be unstable. Another one of our goals is to examine the stability of our predicted flows. Because time-dependent three-dimensional numerical models of the solar-terrestrial environment generally require extensive computer resources, they are usually based on relatively simple mathematical formulations (i.e., simple MHD or hydrodynamic formulations). Therefore, another long-range goal of our NASA Theory Program is to study the conditions under which various mathematical formulations can be applied to specific solar-terrestrial regions. This may involve a detailed comparison of kinetic, semikinetic, and hydrodynamic predictions for a given polar wind scenario or it may involve the comparison of a small-scale particle-in-cell (PIC) simulation of a plasma expansion event with a similar macroscopic expansion event. The different mathematical formulations have different strengths and weaknesses and a careful comparison of model predictions for similar geophysical situations will provide insight into when the various models can be used with confidence.
- Other Subject(s):
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 19920005737.
Accession ID: 92N14955.
- No Copyright.
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