Date of Award

8-2012

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering Physics

Department

Physical Sciences

Committee Chair

Dr. Katariina Nykyri

First Committee Member

Dr. Anatoly Streltsov

Second Committee Member

Dr. Anthony Reynolds

Abstract

The magnetopause marks the boundary between the shocked solar wind and magnetospheric plasma. Understanding the dynamics of the plasma processes at the magnetopause boundary is crucial to the study of plasma transport into the magnetosphere. Previous studies have shown that there exists a temperature asymmetry in the plasma sheet. During northward IMF, the cold component ions are 30-40% hotter in the dawn flank plasma sheet compared to the dusk flank. However, the mechanisms responsible are still not entirely clear. Recent work has shown that reconnection in Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices can transport plasma into the magnetosphere. Previous studies have also shown that mode conversion at the magnetopause can generate kinetic Alfvén wave (KAW) activity. Both magnetic reconnection and plasma wave activity can heat plasma. In this thesis we look for new cases of Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability (KHI) from Cluster spacecraft data and search for signatures of associated magnetic reconnection and plasma wave activity.

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