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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2024
  2. Abstract We investigate the detailed properties of electron inflow in an electron-only reconnection event observed by the four Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) spacecraft in the Earth's turbulent magnetosheath downstream of the quasi-parallel bow shock. The lack of ion coupling was attributed to the small-scale sizes of the current sheets, and the observed bidirectional super-Alfvénic electron jets indicate that the MMS spacecraft crossed the reconnecting current sheet on both sides of an active X-line. Remarkably, the MMS spacecraft observed the presence of large asymmetries in the two electron inflows, with the inflows (normal to the current sheet) on the two sides of the reconnecting current layer differing by as much as a factor of four. Furthermore, even though the four MMS spacecraft were separated by less than seven electron skin depths, the degree of inflow asymmetry was significantly different at the different spacecraft. The asymmetry in the inflow speeds was larger with increasing distances downstream from the reconnection site, and the asymmetry was opposite on the two sides of the X-line. We compare the MMS observations with a 2D kinetic particle-in-cell (PIC) simulation and find that the asymmetry in the inflow speeds stems from in-plane currents generated via the combination of reconnection-mediated inflows and parallel flows along the magnetic separatrices in the presence of a large guide field. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 28, 2024
  3. Electrons in earth's magnetotail are energized significantly both in the form of heating and in the form of acceleration to non-thermal energies. While magnetic reconnection is considered to play an important role in this energization, it still remains unclear how electrons are energized and how energy is partitioned between thermal and non-thermal components. Here, we show, based on in situ observations by NASA's magnetospheric multiscale mission combined with multi-component spectral fitting methods, that the average electron energy [Formula: see text] (or equivalently temperature) is substantially higher when the locally averaged electric field magnitude [Formula: see text] is also higher. While this result is consistent with the classification of “plasma-sheet” and “tail-lobe” reconnection during which reconnection is considered to occur on closed and open magnetic field lines, respectively, it further suggests that a stochastic Fermi acceleration in 3D, reconnection-driven turbulence is essential for the production and confinement of energetic electrons in the reconnection region. The puzzle is that the non-thermal power-law component can be quite small even when the electric field is large and the bulk population is significantly heated. The fraction of non-thermal electron energies varies from sample to sample between ∼20% and ∼60%, regardless of the electric field magnitude. Interestingly, these values of non-thermal fractions are similar to those obtained for the above-the-looptop hard x-ray coronal sources for solar flares. 
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  4. Abstract The Van Allen Probes Electric Fields and Waves (EFW) instrument provided measurements of electric fields and spacecraft floating potentials over a wide dynamic range from DC to 6.5 kHz near the equatorial plane of the inner magnetosphere between 600 km altitude and 5.8 Re geocentric distance from October 2012 to November 2019. The two identical instruments provided data to investigate the quasi-static and low frequency fields that drive large-scale convection, waves induced by interplanetary shock impacts that result in rapid relativistic particle energization, ultra-low frequency (ULF) MHD waves which can drive radial diffusion, and higher frequency wave fields and time domain structures that provide particle pitch angle scattering and energization. In addition, measurements of the spacecraft potential provided a density estimate in cold plasmas ( $<20~\text{eV}$ < 20 eV ) from 10 to $3000~\text{cm}^{-3}$ 3000 cm − 3 . The EFW instrument provided analog electric field signals to EMFISIS for wave analysis, and it received 3d analog signals from the EMFISIS search coil sensors for inclusion in high time resolution waveform data. The electric fields and potentials were measured by current-biased spherical sensors deployed at the end of four 50 m booms in the spacecraft spin plane (spin period $\sim11~\text{sec}$ ∼ 11 sec ) and a pair of stacer booms with a total tip-tip separation of 15 m along the spin axis. Survey waveform measurements at 16 and/or 32 S/sec (with a nominal uncertainty of 0.3 mV/m over the prime mission) were available continuously while burst waveform captures at up to 16,384 S/sec provided high frequency waveforms. This post-mission paper provides the reader with information useful for accessing, understanding and using EFW data. Selected science results are discussed and used to highlight instrument capabilities. Science quantities, data quality and error sources, and analysis routines are documented. 
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  5. null (Ed.)
  6. Abstract The search for life in the Universe is a fundamental problem of astrobiology and modern science. The current progress in the detection of terrestrial-type exoplanets has opened a new avenue in the characterization of exoplanetary atmospheres and in the search for biosignatures of life with the upcoming ground-based and space missions. To specify the conditions favourable for the origin, development and sustainment of life as we know it in other worlds, we need to understand the nature of global (astrospheric), and local (atmospheric and surface) environments of exoplanets in the habitable zones (HZs) around G-K-M dwarf stars including our young Sun. Global environment is formed by propagated disturbances from the planet-hosting stars in the form of stellar flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles and winds collectively known as astrospheric space weather. Its characterization will help in understanding how an exoplanetary ecosystem interacts with its host star, as well as in the specification of the physical, chemical and biochemical conditions that can create favourable and/or detrimental conditions for planetary climate and habitability along with evolution of planetary internal dynamics over geological timescales. A key linkage of (astro)physical, chemical and geological processes can only be understood in the framework of interdisciplinary studies with the incorporation of progress in heliophysics, astrophysics, planetary and Earth sciences. The assessment of the impacts of host stars on the climate and habitability of terrestrial (exo)planets will significantly expand the current definition of the HZ to the biogenic zone and provide new observational strategies for searching for signatures of life. The major goal of this paper is to describe and discuss the current status and recent progress in this interdisciplinary field in light of presentations and discussions during the NASA Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science funded workshop ‘Exoplanetary Space Weather, Climate and Habitability’ and to provide a new roadmap for the future development of the emerging field of exoplanetary science and astrobiology. 
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