Solar System Plasmas in Space and Time
Copyright 1994 by the American Geophysical Union
Editor(s): J. L. Burch, J. H. Waite
Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
Print ISBN: 9780875900414
Online ISBN: 9781118663851
Book Series: Geophysical Monograph Series
About this Book
Published by the American Geophysical Union as part of the Geophysical Monograph Series, Volume 84.
Solar system plasmas are highly structured and dynamic and are characterized by great variability in both space and time. The variations in their spatial distribution and temporal evolution occur on a variety of scales, ranging from kilometers (ion gyroradius) to hundreds of thousands of kilometers (coronal mass ejections) and from microseconds (electron plasma frequency) to years (solar sunspot cycle). Space plasma physicists seeking to understand the complex plasma phenomena that occur at the Sun, in the solar wind, and in the magnetospheres and ionospheres of the Earth and other solar system bodies thus face twin challenges. First, they must distinguish variations that are spatial in nature from those that are temporal. The heavy reliance in past investigations on singlepoint in situ measurements has significantly limited their ability to do this. Second, space physicists must elucidate the interrelationships among micro-, meso-, and macroscale plasma phenomena, relationships that organize the various solar system plasmas into a single heliospheric plasma system embedded in the interstellar medium. Here, too, experimental limitations have constrained the development of a global picture of solar system plasmas. However, new technologies promise a significant advance in our understanding of the interconnectedness of solar system plasmas.