Exective summary

The Science of SCOPE

The SCOPE mission strategy

SCOPE in the Roadmap

SCOPE and the simulation studies

Link to Cross-Scale (ESA)

SCOPE in the Roadmap

The magnetosphere is a corner in the Plasma Universe where in-situ observations can be made. This contrast with astrophysical observations that rely on remote sensing cannot be overstated. In-situ measurements tell us how the charged particles behave (particles are counted one by one and the velocity space distribution function is reconstructed) and how the electromagnetic field develop (magnetic field data is bread-and-butter for our field while electric field data is putting on more roles with more emphasis in micro-physics). They provide crucial information for the fundamental understanding of the Plasma Universe that cannot be obtained by any other scheme. Magnetospheric observations have developed from targeting only at knowing more of the magnetosphere itself to aiming at quantifying the observed physical processes in the universal context. Magnetospheric observations have developed from morphological descriptions at MHD-scale to physics oriented approach to ion- and electron-scales. High performance instruments developed in the past have been sustaining this evolution path of the field. The Geotail mission, ISAS-NASA mission launched in 1992, has opened up the door into the ion-scale paradigm because the spacecraft had onboard the plasma particle detector package of unprecedented high sensitivity. Non-Maxwellian features in the velocity space distribution function, which have become just so visible, have made us start thinking seriously about dynamics of ions as particles, and that with hands on data basis. The passion to develop high-performance instruments and then to revolutionalize the research trend is in the DNA of the SCOPE team.

image largeimage small Mercury, SCOPE and Jupiter. These are the tree major magnetosphetic missions to be performed by Japanese space plasma physics community. It is not that we simply get to know each target better. With the Plasma Universe goal in our mind, lessons learned from different parameter space set by different planets will be synthesized. The different sizes of the three magnetospheres make up an ideal set of parameter space that will be explored by state-of-the-art instruments. SCOPE is the backbone of this future plan of ours.

ESA Cluster, launched in 2000, is the first formation flying mission and has made us convinced of the power of having multi-spacecraft in observing spatio-temporally developing space plasma processes. The Cluster formation is composed of four identical spacecraft and with observations made at each corner of the tetrahedra, it enables us to capture a three-dimensional structure. Quantifying aspect of magnetospheric physics has grown substantially through the Cluster data analysis effort. This is also due to the high quality electric field data provided by the mission, which plays the role of the microscope into the smaller-scales that are unresolvable with the current generation particle data. One should note, however, formation flying observations by four spacecraft can give information on only one scale at a time. While MMS (to be launched in 2014) will be able to resolve electron scale by particle data, since it is a four-spacecraft mission, this frustration, that one can see only one scale at a time, will not be removed. SCOPE is the natural step beyond Cluster and MMS.

PDF ISSI-Forum Report

In March 2009, leading space plasma physicists from all over the world gathered at International Space Science Institute (ISSI; Bern, Switzerland) and discussed the future direction of space plasma physics reaserch. It is clearly pointed out that uncovering mulit-scale nature of space plasmas, looking at the solar system space as the natural laboratory with universal applicaiton in mind, is one of the next steps.


Japanese space plasma physics community has three major future plans. (1) BepiColombo - Mercury Magnetosphere Orbiter (MMO): Exploration of the small magnetosphere with the planet’s surface directly contacting the magnetospheric plasma. To be launched in 2014. (2) SCOPE: Simultaneous multi-scale observations in the earth’s magnetosphere. (3) Europa Jupiter System Mission - Jovian Magnetosphere Orbiter (EJSM JMO): A spinner with state-of-the-art instruments onboard to quantify the plasma processes in the very powerful particle accelerator of the solar system. While, at first glance, these may seem to have three independent targets, now that we have the Plasma Universe mindset, the science output from all the missions in the future will be studied and evaluated in a united organized way. Indeed the three missions will provide data from three vastly different regimes of the parameter space and thus having experimental data from the three missions is essential for us to step toward the universality issue with solid basis. It is worth noting that plasma data from Kaguya, the Japanese lunar orbiter (2007-2009), are very exciting, not only because they show us the face of the totally different environment where plasma is in direct contact with the surface of the celestial body, but also because they make us more and more convinced that data from the Mercury magnetosphere, which has the same boundary condition, should be quite interesting.