Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, and the Goddard Space Flight Center
The Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission: Observations of magnetic reconnection at the Earth's magnetopause
Collisionless plasma systems such as solar flares and planetary magnetospheres often undergo phases of energy built-ups and impulsive releases called magnetic reconnection. A key open question in collisionless magnetic reconnection concerns how the current is limited under the finite reconnection electric field. Despite numerous theories, simulations, and laboratory experiments attempting to solve the problem, what exactly occurs in the reconnection current layer in Nature remains a mystery until the recent unprecedented high-cadence high-quality data returned by the NASA MMS mission. We will discuss how the measurements from the first MMS scan of the Earth's magnetopause advance our understanding of the dissipation problem.