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Alfven-MICE logo

The Aurora

The aurora are beautiful, dynamic "space" phenomena appreciated by the general public (as the Northern or Southern Lights) but as yet not well understood by science. Aurora occur on several planets in the solar system, and likely elsewhere. The kind of non-MHD plasma physics that occur there, are expected to occur throughout the universe; the auroral regions are the most accessible place we have an opportunity to study them.

More on the aurora can be found here

What is Alfven-MICE?

Alfven-MICE is a proposal for a multi-spacecraft mission designed to answer questions about the plasma physics at the heart to processes which create the aurora, namely the transfer of energy and momentum from the solar wind, via the magnetosphere, to the Earth's ionosphere.

Why a multi spacecraft mission to the Aurora?

There are a number of well posed questions about auroral space plasma physics which have been raised by pushing the analysis of data from single spacecraft missions to the limit, and by theoretical work, which can only be answered using observations from more than one spacecraft flying in formation. The ESA Cluster mission, which recently achieved 10 successful years in operation,has used four spacecraft to revolutionize our understanding of the magnetosphere; now we need to do something similar for the aurora.

More on previous missions to the aurora can be found here

ESA's Cosmic Vision 2015-2025

Cosmic Vision is the name of ESA's programme of scientific research missions. A proposal for Alfven-MICE was developed and submitted to ESA's 2010 M-class mission call. Unfortunately the proposal was not selected for further study on this occassion.

More on Cosmic Visions and the M3 competition can be found here

Who are the Team?

The project was led by

  • Dr M Berthomier (LPP/CNRS, France)
  • Prof A Fazakerley (MSSL-UCL, UK)
  • Prof. R. Pottelette (LPP/CNRS, France)

The whole project is supported by a proposal team of 60 scientists from:

  • Canada
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Norway
  • Romania
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom

Team Meeting at MSSL, 9-10 November, 2010

Team Area (password required)

We welcome all feedback, comments and suggestions from the UK, European and world-wide community. Please register here to show your interest in this exciting mission.

2 November 2010
Andrew Fazakerley
anf [at] mssl.ucl.ac.uk

Credit: mock up of mission badge produced using an artists impression image extracted from a NASA movie illustrating the aurora; http://www.nasa.gov/mpg/133551main_live_aurora.mpg

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