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Suggested Citation:"Chaotic Effects." National Research Council. 1995. Plasma Science: From Fundamental Research to Technological Applications. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/4936.
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Page171

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THEORETICAL AND COMPUTATIONAL PLASMA PHYSICS 171 sphere equilibrium structures? If the current direction of thinking is correct and gross plasma behavior is regulated by processes at a number of thin boundary layers, such as stream-interaction regions in the solar wind and Earth's plasma sheet boundary layer, what processes are responsible for maintaining the existence of such narrow structures? Collisionless Shocks The study of collisionless shocks is arguably the area in which the most significant advances have been achieved during the past decade and where the impact of space on basic plasma physics has been most profound. Success has been achieved as the result of a coordinated approach to the problem, using sets of complementary observations analyzed in the context of contemporary numerical models that integrate relevant microscopic theory. The Earth's bow shock is observable on every spacecraft orbit that reaches the solar wind. The International Sun-Earth Explorer (ISEE) mission is a cooperative venture between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). ISEE, with its coordinated pair of maneuverable spacecraft having ideally suited apogees, featured bow-shock physics as a prime scientific objective and has contributed immeasurably to this understanding. Bow shocks have been observed in association with every planet and comet. They are necessary hydromagnetic structures allowing the supersonic, super-Alfvénic solar wind to slow down and divert around an obstacle in its flow. Collisionless shocks are also common coronal and solar wind phenomena. There is rich variety to shocks, and this diversity is still incompletely investigated and understood. A prime determinant is the direction of the magnetic field in the incoming flow with respect to the normal to the discontinuity surface. If the angle is large, the shock is a perpendicular shock and generally laminar and quiescent. If the angle is small, the shock is a parallel one and exhibits a great deal of pulsation, structural disintegration, and reforming. Owing to the geometry, different azimuthal sectors of the same planetary bow shock can be quasiperpendicular, while other sectors are quasiparallel. In both instances there is a wealth of fine-scale plasma structure, both internal and external to the discontinuity. Chaotic Effects During the past decade, realization of the importance of chaos has emerged in all branches of science. This is true of space plasma physics. The focus of attention has been on chaotic particle trajectories, especially those occurring in the equatorial region of the magnetotail where the magnetic field is significantly weakened owing to distention. It is known that a mixture of chaotic and regular orbits exists, but the relative magnitude of their numbers is an open question. First results indicate that injection at the proper locations and ensuing chaos can

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Plasma science is the study of ionized states of matter. This book discusses the field's potential contributions to society and recommends actions that would optimize those contributions. It includes an assessment of the field's scientific and technological status as well as a discussion of broad themes such as fundamental plasma experiments, theoretical and computational plasma research, and plasma science education.

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