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Michael McCarthy's Profile Picture

Michael McCarthy
Research Associate Professor
Office: JHN-261
Phone: 206-685-2543
Fax: 206-543-0489 (shared)
Email: [javascript protected email address]
Interests: Space Plasma Physics
Research Groups: Space Physics

Education: Ph.D., Physics, University of Washington, 1988
Current Research:
My research interests center on processes in nature wherein charged particles in a plasma state of matter are energized, either in the form of acceleration or heating. My approach to such problems ranges from analytical theory to experimental measurements. Such processes generally occur far from the bottom of the atmosphere where we live and so their direct effects on us are not important. However, they do become important as one leaves Earth's surface.

A partial listing of recent areas of active research involving myself as a lead or co-investigator, together with students and colleagues at UW or other institutions, includes:

1. in situ measurements to test ideas about acceleration and heating of ionospheric electrons due to electric field transients generated by lightning discharges (rocket-borne experiment; July 2000)

2. remote sensing technique to investigate relativistic electron precipitation from Earth's magnetosphere onto its upper atmosphere (stratospheric balloon-borne experiments; Aug 1996, Jan 2000, Dec 2003)

3. in situ survey measurements of low energy ions distributed throughout Earth's magnetosphere (satellite instrument; launched 2000, still operational)

4. investigate the mechanism of pulsating aurora through in situ measurements of ionospheric electron velocity distribution functions (rocket-borne experiment; Mar 1997)

5. construct analytical solutions of collisionless plasma kinetic equations near a magnetic reconnection area (ongoing theoretical effort)

6. investigate sprites, which are a middle atmospheric discharge phenomenon associated with thunderstorms, through in situ measurements of electromagnetic fields and remote sensing of relativistic electrons (balloon borne experiments; Dec 2002, Feb 2003)