University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Space Physics Seminar

Tuesday, February 10th 2015
1:25 pm:
Space Physics Seminar in 435 Physics
Speaker: Dr. Daniel Gershman, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Subject: Space: a Plasma Physics Laboratory

The space environment provides a near-pristine laboratory for studying plasma physics. /In situ/ particle instrumentation complemented by electromagnetic fields can be used to study plasma dynamics at all scales, ranging from astronomical units to individual particle motion. In addition to scientific expertise, detailed technical knowledge of instrument design and behavior is paramount for finding signal in the noise and maximizing the scientific return of space missions. Here, recent data from the MESSENGER spacecraft is used to demonstrate how penetrating radiation that inhibits nominal plasma measurements can be used to infer magnetic topology and remotely probe the smallest scales in Mercury’s space environment.Such structure will be measured in great detail at Earth with the Fast Plasma Investigation suite on the upcoming Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS). Key engineering innovations in both laboratory and in-flight calibration activities will be presented that will enable MMS to provide the highest ever spatial and temporal resolution measurements of space plasmas.

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