Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Instrumentation Helps Scientists Better Predict Space Weather

Date:
December 13, 2006
Source:
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Summary:
New instrumentation and observing techniques, being developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, are helping scientists better understand and predict space weather.

Jonathan Makela, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, has developed new instrumentation to better predict space weather.
Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

New instrumentation and observing techniques, being developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, are helping scientists better understand and predict space weather.

Space weather can be caused by giant solar flares and coronal mass ejections from the sun, and can adversely affect life on Earth. Tremendous blasts of radiation may threaten astronauts, disrupt satellite communication and navigation systems, and knock out power grids on Earth. Near Earth's magnetic equator, however, space weather can have dramatic effects even during quiet solar conditions.

"These storms are among the most explosive events that occur in the ionosphere, and are an important component of ongoing space weather research," said Jonathan Makela, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Illinois.

"A better understanding of the physical processes responsible for these storms could improve our ability to forecast space weather," Makela said, "and lead to better techniques to mitigate its effects."

The ionosphere extends from approximately 100 kilometers to more than 1,000 kilometers above Earth's surface. In this region of the atmosphere, solar radiation can strip the outer electrons from atoms and molecules of gas. After sunset, the electrons recombine and give off light, called airglow. Space weather events at the magnetic equator appear as depletions in the airglow. As signals at radio wavelengths pass through these turbulent regions, they scintillate -- much like the twinkling of starlight at optical wavelengths.

Unlike aurora, which can be seen with the naked eye, airglow near the magnetic equator is visible only in photographs taken through narrow-band filters with exposure times of a minute or two.

In August 2006, Makela installed a narrow-field ionospheric airglow imager at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, located east of La Serena, Chile. The imager looks north, parallel to Earth's magnetic field and toward the magnetic equator. Two GPS scintillation monitors were also installed at the site, and are used to study ionospheric instabilities at a smaller size scale.

"The GPS monitors allow us to perform simple interferometric calculations and derive drift velocities of the perturbations that cause the scintillations," Makela said. "By measuring power fluctuations in the GPS signals, we can also correlate the scintillation patterns with the airglow images."

Makela is also attempting to correlate his airglow images with radar backscatter observations made with the Jicamarca radar system near Lima, Peru.

"In this way, we can study the relative roles of the equatorial and local regions of the ionosphere in the production of scintillation-causing perturbations," Makela said. "This could then help us better predict space weather, prepare further safeguards on Earth and in space, and plan more robust communication and navigation schemes during space weather events."

Makela will describe the instrumentation and present early results, based on overlapping data from the imager, GPS receivers and Jicamarca radar, at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, Dec. 11-15.

Makela's work in Chile is in collaboration with electrical and computer engineering professors Paul Kintner at Cornell University and Brent Ledvina at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Illinois graduate student Ethan Miller is also working on the project.

The National Science Foundation and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory funded the research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "New Instrumentation Helps Scientists Better Predict Space Weather." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 December 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061212091324.htm>.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (2006, December 13). New Instrumentation Helps Scientists Better Predict Space Weather. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061212091324.htm
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "New Instrumentation Helps Scientists Better Predict Space Weather." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/12/061212091324.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-Fuel Impala

3BL Media (Oct. 20, 2014) Hey, Doc! Sewage, Beer and Food Scraps Can Power Chevrolet’s Bi-fuel Impala Video provided by 3BL
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

White Rhino's Death In Kenya Means Just 6 Are Left

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) Suni, a rare northern white rhino at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, died Friday. This, as many media have pointed out, leaves people fearing extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beijing Marathon Runners Brave Hazardous Air Pollution

Beijing Marathon Runners Brave Hazardous Air Pollution

AFP (Oct. 19, 2014) Tens of thousands of runners battled thick smog at the Beijing Marathon on Sunday, with some donning masks as the levels of PM2.5 small pollutant particles soared to 16 times the maximum recommended level. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins