Theoretical and Observational Studies of Magnetic Reconnection and Plasma Instability in Space Environments

Project Details


The Earth's magnetosphere and the interplanetary space are the natural laboratories for the study of highly conducting and magnetized plasmas. Due to the lack of collisions many plasma phenomena with various spatial and temporal scales may occur uniquely in the space plasma environments. With the launch of several high resolution multiple spacecraft missions in the magnetosphere and solar wind for the past decade, the interplays between observations, theories and simulations have become possible. Simultaneous observations of the kinetic and fluid-scale plasma phenomena have also posed great challenges to the theoretical and modeling studies of space plasma physics. The proposed project is aimed at studying the observational and theoretical aspects of magnetic reconnection and nonthermal plasma instabilities occurring in the space plasma environments. Mixed kinetic and fluid models will be developed for the study of magnetopause reconnection and plasma mirror instability occurring in the magnetosphere and solar wind. The observational data based on multiple spacecraft including the high resolution MMS and THEMIS missions will be analyzed and compared with the theories and simulations. In particular, the present MHD reconstruction models will be extended to incorporate the diffusion region near the reconnection site to reveal the kinetic and MHD scale physics for the magnetopause current layers. The mirror instability will be studied observationally and theoretically based on the kinetic and plasma fluid models.
Effective start/end date1/08/2031/07/21

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • space plasma environments
  • magnetosphere
  • magnetic reconnection
  • plasma instability


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