** Progress in Earth and Planetary Science is the official journal of the Japan Geoscience Union, published in collaboration with its 50 society members.

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    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    • Progress in Earth and Planetary Science
    Progress in Earth and Planetary Science

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    Space and planetary sciences


    Dynamics of the terrestrial radiation belts: A review of recent results during VarSITI (Variability of the Sun and Its Terrestrial Impact) era, 2014-2018

    Kanekal S., Miyoshi Y.

    Inner Magnetosphere, Energetic Particles, Plasma Waves, Wave-Particle Interactions, Radiation Belts, Plasmasphere, Ring Current

    Diagram illustrating the interconnectedness and cross-energy coupling between particles, waves, and underlying physical processes.

    The Earth’s magnetosphere is region that is carved out by the solar wind as it flows past and interacts with the terrestrial magnetic field. The inner magnetosphere is the region that contains the plasmasphere, ring current, and the radiation belts all co-located within about 6.6 Re, nominally taken to be bounding this region. This region is highly dynamic and is home to a variety of plasma waves and particle populations ranging in energy from a few eV to relativistic and ultra-relativistic electrons and ions. The interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) embedded in the solar wind via the process of magnetic reconnection at the sub-solar point sets up plasma convection and creates the magnetotail. Magnetic reconnection also occurs in the tail and is responsible for explosive phenomena known as substorms. Substorms inject low-energy particles into the inner magnetosphere and help generate and sustain plasma waves. Transients in the solar wind such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), co-rotating interaction regions (CIRs), and interplanetary shocks compress the magnetosphere resulting in geomagnetic storms, energization, and loss of energetic electrons in the outer radiation belt nad enhance the ring current, thereby driving the geomagnetic dynamics. The Specification and Prediction of the Coupled Inner-Magnetospheric Environment (SPeCIMEN) is one of the four elements of VarSITI (Variability of the Sun and Its Terrestrial Impact) program which seeks to quantitatively predict and specify the inner magnetospheric environment based on Sun/solar wind driving inputs. During the past 4 years, the SPeCIMEN project has brought together scientists and researchers from across the world and facilitated their efforts to achieve the project goal. This review provides an overview of some of the significant scientific advances in understanding the dynamical processes and their interconnectedness during the VarSITI era. Major space missions, with instrument suites providing in situ measurements, ground-based programs, progress in theory, and modeling are briefly discussed. Open outstanding questions and future directions of inner magnetospheric research are explored.