Scientific rationale, objectives, and expected results

The complex dynamics of turbulent plasmas is a challenging subject for the scientific community. The solar system is the most accessible environment for its study. Space plasmas are in a strongly turbulent regime, rich in instabilities and interesting nonlinear phenomena (excitation of waves, structures formation, wave-particle interaction, reconnection), and in a wide range of conditions (e.g. production. magnetization or energy input). Due to the large availability of experimental measurements provided by instruments onboard space missions, the study of solar system plasmas is of great interest for the understanding of fundamental plasma processes. The development of high resolution numerical simulations plays a key role to understand the phenomena and interpret the observations. The aim of this project is to provide concrete advances in the understanding of a very complex phenomenon, namely the turbulent behaviour of collisionless plasmas. In particular, we address a number of scientific objectives such as:

  1. to describe the large scale and inertial range turbulence in heliospheric plasmas;
  2. to advance the understanding of dispersive and dissipative phenomena in plasma turbulence;
  3. to study coherent structures and reconnection in turbulent plasmas;
  4. to develop and apply new multi-spacecraft analysis techniques, and to support new space missions;
  5. to perform and study high resolution numerical simulations of MHD, Hall-MHD and kinetic plasmas.

The results achieved during the project will help the advance in the understanding of the main processes occurring in the solar wind and, more in general, in turbulent plasmas. Besides the direct impact on the understanding of the Sun-Earth connection (including Space Weather), the results of this project will be relevant for technological purposes. Indeed, phenomena occurring in plasma turbulence are among the main problems for the confinement of plasma (e.g. in fusion devices), and are thus of great strategic interest for energetic and industrial purposes. Finally, the results obtained will represent a crucial support to the next generation scientific space missions.