John Podesta

Research Scientist
Los Alamos, NM

The solar wind is a hot ionized gas that blows away from the sun at supersonic and super-Alfvenic speeds. Formed by the large pressure difference between the sun's superhot corona and the vacuum of space, the solar wind is a magnetized plasma which provides a natural laboratory for the study of kinetic processes in collisionless space plasmas. In my latest research performed in collaboration with S. Peter Gary, we used new wavelet analysis techniques to detect and analyze electromagnetic plasma waves in the solar wind at scales near the proton inertial length (ion kinetic scales). These novel observations rely on high accuracy high cadence magnetic field measurements and provide evidence for two different populations of waves propagating either parallel or perpendicular to the local magnetic field. The waves are believed to play a role in the plasma physical processes that heat the solar wind plasma and regulate particle distribution functions in the expanding solar wind. A complete understanding of these waves and plasma processes is one of the fundamental goals of solar wind research.

Besides space science, I also enjoy hiking and have been exploring the mountains of northern New Mexico for the past few years. Boulder is great, of course. I went to Salt Lake City in November 2011 and found great hiking there too. I don't like the cold and can't hike in the snow so I am fortunate my mother left me her condo in Ft.Myers, Florida where I now reside during the winter months.