Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

University of Alberta space research to solve aurora mystery

12.01.2007
On February 15, NASA will launch the largest number of scientific satellites ever sent into orbit aboard a single rocket. A handful of Alberta scientists will be at Kennedy Space Center watching and waiting. For Dr. Ian Mann and Dr. John Samson, researchers in the Department of Physics at the University of Alberta, the real fun will begin when the satellites start taking measurements in the eye of space storms above observatories spread across North America.

The satellites, all carrying identical suites of electric, magnetic, and particle detectors, are part of the NASA THEMIS mission (for "time history of events and macroscale interactions during substorms"). THEMIS is a collaborative effort of scientists from the US, Canada and Europe that will study processes occurring in near-Earth space and elsewhere in the universe.

Mann, a THEMIS co-Investigator and Canada Research Chair in Space Physics says "with an unprecedented flotilla of five research satellites flying in formation we will discover for the first time how energy release is triggered in extreme space weather events."

Given the vulnerability of satellites to fluxes of energetic particles, the results will help scientists better understand how to protect them during near-Earth space storms. A beautiful and fascinating side benefit of this project will be discovering why the most spectacular auroral displays look the way they do.

Auroras are powered by solar wind - a stream of charged particles expelled by the sun. This wind blows past the earth at about 400-700 km per second and generates storms in the earth's magnetic environment. In the polar regions, these explode into spectacular auroral displays.

"By studying these explosions in the natural laboratory of near-Earth space, we can also learn how energy is explosively released in magnetised astrophysical objects in the universe. This also has important implications for magnetic confinement in nuclear fusion power reactors" adds Mann.

The THEMIS satellites will fly in carefully coordinated orbits, and every four days, will line up over Canada along the Earth's magnetic tail to track disturbances in near-Earth space in the magnetosphere.

Satellite data from the THEMIS mission will be compared to observations from ground stations across the Canadian Arctic. Since most of the readily accessible land under the northern-hemisphere auroral zone is in Canada, 16 of the 20 ground-based observatories will be set up in Canada, with the other four in Alaska. The observatories will host magnetometers which will monitor the magnetic signatures of explosions in near-Earth space known as substorms, as well as automated all-sky cameras.

Magnetometer data at some of the THEMIS ground-based observatory sites will be provided by the CARISMA (Canadian Array for Real-time Investigations of Magnetic Activity) magnetometer array. Dr. Mann is the Principal Investigator of CARISMA, operated by the University of Alberta and funded by the Canadian Space Agency. A $1.3M expansion of the CARISMA array was recently funded by CFI.

Data collected from the observatories and the THEMIS satellites will be analyzed by teams of scientists at the University of Alberta working with Dr's Mann and Samson. Data from the THEMIS mission will be made available over the internet using the computing facilities at the University of Alberta in a project led by Dr. Robert Rankin in the Physics Department.

In Canada, THEMIS partners include the University of Alberta, University of Calgary and the Canadian Space Agency. The THEMIS Principal Investigator institute is the University of California, Berkeley.

Julie Naylor | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ualberta.ca

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Only an atom thick: Physicists succeed in measuring mechanical properties of 2D monolayer materials
17.01.2018 | Universität des Saarlandes

nachricht Black hole spin cranks-up radio volume
15.01.2018 | National Institutes of Natural Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Polymers Based on Boron?

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

18.01.2018 | Life Sciences

World’s oldest known oxygen oasis discovered

18.01.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>