The spacecraft seeks to answer two questions related to how energy is transferred from the sun to the Earth’s plasma environment. Both are focused on the process of magnetic reconnection in which magnetic fields break and rejoin with each other. The process is widely recognized as the primary mechanism through which energy is transferred from the sun to the Earth’s space environment, however many of its properties remain unknown. The questions targeted by the CuPID cubesat observatory are:
1. What conditions favor single versus multiple reconnection sites?
Researchers have found evidence for re connection that occurs a long a single line as well as a re connection process which occurs multiple locations simultaneously. We seek to address these possibly contrasting models and identify what factors may control this spatial property.
2. What conditions favor steady versus bursty reconnection?
Evidence has also been shown for two types of temporal behavior. Some have demonstrated re connection can occur in spurts and short bursts, while others have shown a steady and continuous reconnection. Understanding if one behavior is more common than the other and what factors (if any) may control this property is also a primary goal of the mission.
These questions will be addressed through imaging X-ray emission from ion dispersion in the magnetospheric cusps.