Device description

In terms of universal scaled parameters that allow the extrapolation of specific experiments to other magnetic confinement devices, as well as to space and astrophysical plasmas, this new device will span the following range:

  • Number of particles in a Debye sphere (variable from 10^2 to 10^6)
  • Magnetization parameter wpe/We (variable from 3x10-2 to 5x10^4)
  • Ratio of plasma kinetic energy density to magnetic energy density, b (variable from 10-7 to larger than 2)
  • Ratio of Alfven speed to electron thermal velocity vA/ve (variable from 0.1 to 10)
  • Number of axial Alfven wavelengths (0.5 to 10)

The wide range in plasma parameters available to experimentalists together with the extraordinary ease of access and relatively short time required to set up experiments will permit the study of a broad range of frontier areas in plasma science. Noteworthy among these are:

  • Study of heat and particle transport under a wide variety of heating conditions
  • Simulation of ionospheric heating experiments (HAARP, ARECIBO)
  • Exploration of electrostatic and electromagnetic turbulence
  • Alfvenic turbulence and electron acceleration (auroral beams, solar physics)
  • Behavior of edge plasmas
  • Formation and dynamics of density structures (vortices, plasma bubbles, filaments)
  • Transformation of electromagnetic waves at density gradients (solar radio noise, scintillations)
  • Effect of biasing and rotation on turbulent structures
  • Wave-particle interactions with Alfven waves
  • Interactions of current channels
  • Modeling of auroral current systems
  • Spontaneous generation of fast ions
  • 3-D reconnection processes
  • Effects associated with flows and shock formation (modeling processes in solar wind, magnetosphere)
  • Development and testing of advanced high-frequency diagnostics
  • Development of microscopic probe and sensor arrays

It is to be recognized that the experiments in this device will have a major impact on the development of plasma theory and simulation because they will generate unambiguous quantitative measurements of phenomena that thus far have not been tested. In essence the basic plasma science facility has the potential to solidify the foundations of plasma theory (by weeding out failing ideas) while simultaneously stimulating its development in different directions with the discovery of new phenomena.