How do we get beyond the large scale static picture of the ionosphere?
The science targeted by Q2 is an acknowledgment that the magnetosphere-ionosphere
system is highly dynamic including processes with scale sizes from hundreds of meters
to thousands of kilometers (at ionospheric altitudes). Despite this well-known fact, most
published models make the assumption that observed variations are solely due to spatial
gradients or, in other words, that the system is static. This crippling assumption is largely
due to the inherent observational shortcomings of single satellite missions, which cannot
separate spatial and temporal variations of a measured electromagnetic parameter.
However, progress has been made possible by the recent launch of multi-point
satellite missions (e.g., ESA SWARM, THEMIS and Cluster). These missions, as well
as some ground-based observations, finally provide us with the observational basis
needed to advance our