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Daytona Beach


Physical Sciences

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The Kelvin–Helmholtz instability (KHI) is a ubiquitous phenomenon across the Universe, observed from 500 m deep in the oceans on Earth to the Orion molecular cloud. Over the past two decades, several space missions have enabled a leap forward in our understanding of this phenomenon at the Earth’s magnetopause. Key results obtained by these missions are first presented, with a special emphasis on Cluster and THEMIS. In particular, as an ideal instability, the KHI was not expected to produce mass transport. Simulations, later confirmed by spacecraft observations, indicate that plasma transport in Kelvin–Helmholtz (KH) vortices can arise during non-linear stage of its development via secondary process. In addition to plasma transport, spacecraft observations have revealed that KHI can also lead to significant ion heating due to enhanced ion-scale wave activity driven by the KHI. Finally, we describe what are the upcoming observational opportunities in 2018–2020, thanks to a unique constellation of multi-spacecraft missions including: MMS, Cluster, THEMIS, Van Allen Probes and Swarm.

Publication Title

Space Science Reviews



Springer Verlag