Posted on: 23rd December 2015

#23 Space and astrophysical plasmas

Space and astrophysical plasma research involves the study of plasma physics occurring throughout the universe, extending from earth’s upper atmosphere to the farthest reaches of the cosmos. The common thread of theoretical physics runs through space, astrophysics, laboratory and fusion energy plasmas. Research into these fields overlap and knowledge gained through fusion energy experiments can be utilized for the understanding of space and astrophysical plasmas, especially with regard to magnetic reconnection, plasma turbulence, magnetic dynamos, and multi-scale transport. The development of numerical models and the assimilation of data into predictive models are also areas of fruitful overlap. In a properly scaled and controlled laboratory experiment, the subtle physics details can be studied using plasma diagnostics with extraordinary spatial and temporal resolution. Fusion energy research, therefore, provides a valuable, complementary approach to understanding basic and applied space plasma physics.

The complexity and the multidisciplinary nature of fusion research produced number of spin-offs that have found applications in industry, other scientific disciplines, and technological advances. The areas that have benefited from fusion research span a variety of fields ranging from medicine and material science to computing and astrophysics.

EUROfusion has identified some of these spin-offs, looked at fusion research aspects that have the potential for short-term benefits, and prepared a non-exhaustive list of fusion spin-offs which demonstrate the short-term benefits of fusion research on the way to fusion electricity.