IRF-U Space Plasma Physics
| INSTITUTET FÖR RYMDFYSIK
| Swedish Institute of Space Physics
|| (59°50.272′N, 17°38.786′E)
the research programme
Space Plasma Physics
see also our page in Swedish
|19 Nov 2021: Our postdoc Giulia Cozzani leads a study just published by Physical Review Letters showing how thin sheets of electric current flowing in the Earth's magnetic tail becomes the sites of the explosive process of magnetic reconnection. See also our press release.
|8 Jul 2021:
The first results from the RPWI instrument on Solar Orbiter, to which we have
contributed flight electronics, are now published
in Astronomy & Astrophysics. Read more in our
We investigate what
goes on in space using instruments we build
ourselves and fly on spacecraft, ground based instruments, computer
simulations and plasma theory. Here are some samples of our research:
For the moment,
we are responsible for or have significant contribution to the following instruments in space:
- Dec 2019: In a paper in Physical Review Letters, our PhD student Konrad Steinvall have used the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) satellites to demonstrate that electron space-phase holes can radiate whistler waves.
- Jan 2018: In a paper in Physical
Review Letters, Lina Hadid and co-workers reveal the energy flow in the turbulence
in the Earth's magnetosheath.
- Oct 2016: In a paper in Physical
Review Letters, our PhD student
Andreas Johlander have used the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) satellites
to find out the details of shock waves in space. See also our
- Oct 2016: In a paper in Journal
of Geophysical Research, our PhD student
suggests new ways electrons can be accelerated in a shocked solar wind, based on the Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) satellite data. The paper was selected as Editor's Highlight.
- May 2014: The properties of asymmetric magnetic reconnection, important for storage and release
of magnetic energy in a variety of cosmic contexts, could be explored in detail
with our and other instruments on ESA's Cluster satellites. The results were
published in Physical Review Letters.
- Jul 2013:
Magnetic reconnection can be more efficient in accelerating electrons to
high energy when variable rather than steady, we show in a paper in
- Aug 2012:
Exploring the properties of thin sheets in space, we have for the first time been able
to verify the properties of so called lower hybrid drift waves in space around Earth,
using our instruments on the multi-spacecraft Cluster mission.
The results were published in Physical Review
Letters: see also our press release.
- Jan 2012: Cold plasma previously hidden in the magnetosphere is revealed by our instruments on
the Cluster satellites in a study we publish in Geophysical Research Letters,
also featured in National Geographic Daily News and an AGU news release.
- Jan 2012: We show that dusty plasma around Enceladus affects
Saturn's magnetosphere. See the NASA mission news feature or the editor's highlight in Journal of
- Jul 2011: Plasma jets are common in the universe, and now we know the details of what happens
when they hit an obstacle, using our instruments on the Cluster satellites
in the Earth's magnetic tail.
highlights the study, published in Physical Review Letters.
- Oct 2010: Small pulse-like waves
known as electron holes dwell at the heart of a
magnetically explosion in space, known as reconnection, we show from
our Cluster data in study in
Letters. See also our press release.
- Oct 2010: We contribute to a study in
Science showing th
at pulsating aurora is caused by waves in space known as chorus emissions. See also the
National Geographic news feature.
- March 2010: Pressure fronts in the solar wind help erode the
atmosphere of Mars, we show in Geophysical
See also our press
- July 2009: How is the solar wind heated? Part of the answer is
turbulence, as shown in a study in Physical Review Letters. See also NASA's and ESA's press releases.
- March 2009: Is space turbulent? Yes! In a study
Review Letters, we present detailed Cluster studies of turbulence
in space. See ESA's press
- Dec 2008: We have tracked a previously invisible ion wind from
the Earth far out in space using Cluster. Published in Nature
Geoscience, presented in our press
release and in an ESA Cluster
- March 2007: We found that magnetic field reconnection occurs in
turbulent plasmas, too. Published in Nature Physics,
presented in an ESA news
- Nov 2006: We reveal the inner structure of a region of space
close to a magnetic reconnection site. Published in Physical Review
- Aug 2005: We discovered Alfvén vortices, a kind of
whirlpools in space, near the boundary of the Earth's magnetosphere.
Published in Nature, presented in
release and in an ESA news feature.
- May 2005: On arrival at Saturn, our Langmuir probe on Cassini
immediately detected cold plasma around Titan and plasma interaction
with ring dust. Published in Science and Geophysical Research
- Solar Orbiter -- ESAs mission to investigate the Sun at close distance,
launched in February 10, 2020.
We have provided parts
of the RPW instrument to study the electric field in the solar wind close to its source.
- BepiColombo -- an ESA-JAXA (Europe-Japan) mission to Mercury, where we are responsible for
the electronics and probe surfaces for the MEFISTO sensors of the PWI instrument on the
magnetospheric orbiter. Launched in October 2018 for arrival at Mercury 2026. More
on Bepi and MEFISTO at KTH.
- 4 x MMS -- NASA's Magnetospheric
MultiScale mission, launched March 13, 2015, for which we provided sensor
coating and test equipment for the
electric field instruments built by the University of New Hampshire and the Royal
Institute of Technology (KTH). More
info on the SMART instrument suite for MMS at SwRI.
- 3 x Swarm
-- ESA's three satellites for study
of the geomagnetic field, launched in November 22, 2013. We provide instruments to
plasma density and temperature in the Earth's ionosphere.
- 4 x Cluster
exploring Earth's magnetosphere on a flotilla of four ESA spacecraft,
instruments in space, no longer operational:
- JUICE -- ESA's Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission. Together with a large team of European, Japanese and American laboratories, we will provide instrumentation for investigating waves, fields and plasmas in the Jovian system. Launch 2022, arrival at Jupiter in 2030.
- Comet Interceptor -- ESA's mission to a comet so new that it may not have been discovered even when we launch in 2028! Together with LPC2E in Orléans and a larger European collaboration we provide instrumentation for investigating the comet plasma environment.
- Cassini --
launched by NASA in 1997,
explored the environment of Saturn 2004-2017, with our Langmuir
- Rosetta --
carried our instrument in orbit around comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, launched by ESA in 2004, impact landing on the comet 30 September 2016.
-- orbited the moon with our Langmuir probes onboard,
launched September 2003, impact landing on the moon 3 September 2006
microsatellite (only 29 kg) carrying our LINDA instrument to the
upper ionosphere 1998-1999
- Freja -- detailed
of the Earth's upper ionosphere 1992-1996, including our wave
- Viking --
magnetosphere 1986-1987 by means of our wave instrument (and of course
other instruments as well)
- Numerous sounding rockets during the sixties, seventies, and eighties.
Engineers and computing support:
- Mats André, PhD, professor -- PI Cluster EFW
- David Andrews, PhD, docent -- scientist (Cassini, Mars)
- Jan Bergman, PhD -- scientist, JUICE RPWI project manager
- Stephan Buchert, PhD -- scientist (Swarm)
- Andrew Dimmock, PhD -- scientist (space weather, SolO)
- Andrey Divin, PhD -- guest scientist (simulations)
- Niklas Edberg, PhD -- scientist (Comet Interceptor, Cassini, Rosetta)
- Anders Eriksson, PhD -- scientist (Rosetta, Cluster)
- Daniel Graham, PhD -- scientist (Cluster, MMS)
- Fredrik Johansson, PhD -- post doctoral stipediate (Rosetta)
- Andreas Johlander, PhD -- post doc (MMS)
- Yuri Khotyaintsev,
PhD, docent -- head of research programme
- Ajay Lotekar, PhD -- postdoc (MMS)
- Michiko Morooka, PhD -- scientist (Cassini)
- Chinmaya Nayak, PhD -- postdoc (Swarm)
- Elias Odelstad, PhD -- postdoc (Rosetta)
- Oleg Shebanits, PhD -- postdoc (Cassini)
- Luca Sorriso-Valvo, PhD -- guest scientist (MMS, SolO)
- Erik Vigren, PhD, docent -- scientist (Cassini, Rosetta)
- Jan-Erik Wahlund, PhD, docent -- JUICE RPWI PI, Cassini RPWS-LP lead CoI, BepiColombo lead CoI
- Elisabeth Werner, PhD -- postdoc (SolO)
- Emiliya Yordanova, PhD -- scientist (MMS, SolO)
students (see also our PhD projects page):
- Martin Berglund, PhD, research engineer -- electronics
- Vicki Cripps, research engineer -- PA/QA
- Jesper Fredriksson, research engineer -- analog electronics
- Reine Gill, research engineer -- flight s/w, s/c operations
- Erik Johansson, PhD, research engineer -- Cassini and Rosetta data handling
- Jan Karlsson, programmer -- data archiving and computer system manager
- Björn Mårtensson, software engineer -- JUICE
- Thomas Nilsson, research engineer -- Swarm and MMS data handling
- Dan Ohlsson, research engineer -- system engineer
- Daniel Pelikan, PhD, research engineer -- flight s/w
- Walter Puccio, senior research engineer -- electronics
- Farid Shiva, engineer -- electronics design and manufacturing
(see also our student projects page):
- Jordi Boldu -- Solar Orbiter
- Joshua Dreyer -- Saturn's ionosphere (Cassini)
- Ahmad Lalti -- collisionless shocks (MMS)
- Louis Richard -- turbulence and plasma jet fronts (MMS)
- Konrad Steinvall -- magnetic reconnection in space plasmas (MMS)
- Katerina Stergiopoulou -- Mars' ionosphere (Maven)
- Ida Svenningsson -- Electron heating in turbulent space plasma (MMS, Cluster)
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last modified on Monday, 06-Dec-2021 11:13:31 CET