Project Description

The overall aim of the SHARP project is to advance our understanding of the physics of charged particle acceleration and heating and collisionless dissipation in collisionless shocks (CSs) across a range of scales in the Universe. This will be done by utilising the close collaboration and complementary expertise available within the partner groups to exploit data from ESA and NASA heliospheric and astrophysical missions.

In order to achieve these goals, SHARP will accomplish the following:

  • We will exploit the wide diversity of CSs observed by ESA and NASA heliospheric missions to understand the multiscale structure of CSs and their intrinsic time dependence and variability. This data analysis will yield new discoveries.
  • We will achieve a substantial advance in understanding the key issues related to the acceleration of particles at CSs, such as the injection problem, the effect of the fine structure of the shock front on the dynamics of ions and electrons, and the energisation of heavy ions, by applying the gained knowledge of shock structure.
  • We will achieve a significant leap in the understanding of particle acceleration at astrophysical shocks by comparing the data from remote observations with the acquired knowledge and elucidating the common features and the differences between heliospheric and astrophysical shocks.
  • We will provide the community with a database of shocks and access to advanced data analysis software tools developed in the project, to increase the efficiency of extracting new science from the available and upcoming data.

The amount of the space mission data is very large and it is not realistic to equally cover all datasets in the analysis. The major effort will be devoted to the multi-spacecraft observations at the Earth bow shock (CLUSTER, THEMIS, MMS) which provide high-resolution data. We shall identify and analyse representative events from the interplanetary shock dataset (STEREO) and develop a database for ARTEMIS. The results will be used to build proxies and develop a database of planetary shocks at unmagnetized planets (Venus-Express, Maven).