Laboratory of magnetospheres of the planets

Short name: LMP

Parent structure unit:

Phone: +7 495 939 10 36


Laboratory of magnetospheres of the planets

Laboratory of magnetospheres of the planets (LMP) headed by Professor, Sc.D. Igor Alexeev is organized in 1995 on the basis of the Laboratory of computational mathematics, existed since 1973.

LMP is specialized in the field on detailed studies of the Earth's magnetosphere dynamics during magnetic storms and magnetospheric substorms - the most dramatic and bright phenomena in the near-Earth space. Scientists of the Laboratory are found in the analysis of large-scale magnetospheric current systems, thin current layers, formed at the boundary of the magnetosphere, magnetic field structure in the interface outside detached shock wave. Numeric analysis is conducted by means of up-to-date original quantitative block models.

Besides the studies of the Earth's magnetosphere the scientists of the Laboratory also analyze the structure and dynamics of the magnetospheres of other planets of Solar system and extrasolar planets (exoplanets) - planets situated out of the Solar system. Their interest in the exoplanets is driven by evdeavour to understand the evolution laws of these planets, to find out how many of them posseess their own magnetic field, what is the role of magnetic field in the production of the atmosphere. Answers to these questions can help to find the Earth-like planets where life is possible.

In 2011 the scientists of the Laboratory Igor Alexeev, Elena Belen'kaya and the Chief of the Department of Space Monitoring Vladimir Kalegaev picked up the First Order Lomonosov Prize. They presented a series of articles at the intersection of astronomy, geophysics and mathematics. The authors developed the models of the magnetic fields of the planets' magnetospheres on the basis of accurate analytic solutions of plasma problems. But at the final stage of comparison with the measurements of magnetic field and during the interactive selection of the inner parameters of the model cumbersome arithmetic is needed to be used. In order to conduct this calculation the authors developed original software. Magnetospheric model appeared to be flexible and corresponding versions are applicable for the majority of the Solar system planets which possess their own magnetic fields - besiades the Earth, they are Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn.

So the magnetic fields structure in the magnetospheres of the Solar system planets (the Earth, Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury) were studied. Dynamics of the planets' magnetospheres under the influence of the solar wind and interplanetary magnetic field was analyzed. It was shown that along with general properties magnetosphere of each planet provides specific characteristics which determine its unique character in the Solar system. This research was conducted in collaboration with the scientific groups from Sweden, France, Great Britain and the USA, specialized in the processing of the data obtained during the last space missions to the Solar system planets: Galileo (Jupiter), Cassini (Saturn) and Messenger (Mercury). In order to study dynamics of the magnetospheric magnetic field the scientists used the structure of aurora observed by Hubble space telescope in the upper atmosphere of the giant-planets, Jupiter and Saturn.

Within the frames of their research the scientists of the Laboratory work closely with NASA Hoddard Space Flights Center (USA), Austrian Space Research Institute (Austria), Finnish Meteorological Institute (Finland) and the Laboratory of Astrophysical and Planetary Studies of the French Scientific Research Center (France).

Among the co-authors of the collaborative publications of the scientists are the leading world researchers, such as Professor James Slavin - the Chairman of the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences at the University of Michigan and Professor Stan Cowley - the Head of the Radio and Space Plasma Physics Group of the Department of physics and astronomy at the University of Leicester, the leading researcher in the field of magnetospheric physics, from 2011 - Fellow of UK Royal Society. He is a principal investigator of the studies on measurements of magnetic field onboard the European spacecraft Cassini (which in 2004 became an artificial satellite of Saturn).