Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Northern Lights: First-ever measurement of auroral turbulence using a nanosatellite radar receiver

Date:
March 22, 2012
Source:
SRI International
Summary:
Researchers have taken the first-ever measurement of naturally occurring auroral turbulence recorded using a nanosatellite radar receiver.

Researchers have taken the first-ever measurement of naturally occurring auroral turbulence recorded using a nanosatellite radar receiver.
Credit: Image courtesy of CSA/University of Calgary/Astronomy North

Researchers from SRI International and the University of Michigan have taken the first-ever measurement of naturally occurring auroral turbulence recorded using a nanosatellite radar receiver.

The research was done with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA's Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) Initiative.

The distinctive radar echoes recorded on March 8 were taken with the Radio Aurora Explorer (RAX) CubeSat. The RAX nanosatellite measured turbulence over Fairbanks, Alaska that was a direct result of a geomagnetic storm triggered by the largest solar flare in the past five years. Earth's high latitude ionosphere, a region of the upper atmosphere associated with solar-driven aurora or "northern lights," becomes highly unstable when large currents flow during geomagnetic storms. RAX was specifically designed by SRI and the University of Michigan to measure this auroral turbulence from an orbital vantage point inaccessible to traditional ground-based radars.

"The RAX radar echo discovery has convincingly proved that miniature satellites, beyond their role as teaching tools, can provide high caliber measurements for fundamental space weather research," said Therese Moretto Jorgensen, Ph.D., Geospace program director in the Division of Atmospheric and Geospace Sciences at the National Science Foundation.

The project's mission was to use small satellites called CubeSats to remotely explore formation of charged particle filaments created in response to intense electrical currents in space. These plasma structures, a form of turbulence called field-aligned irregularities (FAIs), can distort communication and navigation signals such as global positioning systems (GPS). During the recent solar flare, RAX measured FAI echoes using the Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar (PFISR), an NSF research radar operated by SRI.

"The recently collected radar echoes allow us to determine the root cause and to possibly predict future disturbances in the auroral ionosphere -- disturbances that can severely compromise communication and GPS satellites," said Hasan Bahcivan, Ph.D., a research physicist in SRI's Center for Geospace Studies, and principal investigator of the RAX mission.

A team of University of Michigan students under the direction of James Cutler, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Aerospace Engineering Department, designed, built, and operated the satellite and gathered the radar echo data.

RAX was the first CubeSat to be selected as part of an NSF program to use small satellites for space weather and atmospheric research. The RAX CubeSat is a three liter satellite weighing three kilograms. It was launched by NASA on October 28, 2011, and has since completed 18 experiments.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ATM-0838054.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by SRI International. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

SRI International. "Northern Lights: First-ever measurement of auroral turbulence using a nanosatellite radar receiver." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120322100303.htm>.
SRI International. (2012, March 22). Northern Lights: First-ever measurement of auroral turbulence using a nanosatellite radar receiver. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120322100303.htm
SRI International. "Northern Lights: First-ever measurement of auroral turbulence using a nanosatellite radar receiver." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120322100303.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finally Reaches Long-Term Goal

NASA’s Curiosity Rover Finally Reaches Long-Term Goal

Newsy (Sep. 15, 2014) — After more than two years, NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover reached Mount Sharp, its long-term destination. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

SpaceX's Elon Musk Really Wants To Colonize Mars

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — Elon Musk has been talking about his goal of colonizing Mars for years now, but how much of it does he actually have figured out, and is it possible? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
International Space Station Crew Returns Safely To Earth

International Space Station Crew Returns Safely To Earth

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — The three-man crew touched down in Kazakhstan Wednesday after more than five months of science experiments in orbit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Solar Storm To Hit This Weekend, Scientists Not Worried

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — Two solar flares which erupted in our direction this week will arrive this weekend. The resulting solar storm will be powerful but not dangerous. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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