Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rocket Launched Into Northern Lights to Illuminate GPS Effects

22.02.2012
As the brilliant colors of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, delight skygazers, Cornell University researchers are discovering how their physics affects satellite signals here on Earth.

A NASA-funded collaborative research team led by Steven Powell, Cornell senior engineer in electrical and computer engineering, launched a sounding rocket from Alaska’s Poker Flat Research Range on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 8:41 p.m. Alaska Standard Time (Sunday, Feb. 19, 2012 at 12:41 a.m. EST) to collect data straight from the heart of the aurora.

The project – the Magnetosphere-Ionosphere Coupling in the Alfven resonator (MICA) mission – involves 60 scientists, engineers, technicians, and graduate students from several institutions and NASA. From Cornell they include Powell, principal investigator for the mission; David Hysell, co-investigator and professor of earth and atmospheric sciences; Robert Miceli and Brady O’Hanlon, graduate students in electrical and computer engineering; and Mark Psiaki, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. Researchers from Dartmouth College, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Oslo (Norway), Southwest Research Institute, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks also are making significant contributions to the mission.

“We’re investigating what’s called space weather,” said Powell, who along with Hysell, Miceli and O’Hanlon, has been stationed at the rocket launch site, 30 miles north of Fairbanks, since the end of January. “Space weather is caused by the charged particles that come from the sun and interact with the Earth’s magnetic field. We don’t directly feel those effects as humans, but our electronic systems do.” These include global positioning systems; (GPS) one of the scientists’ main goals is to investigate the effects of space weather on GPS satellites.

The rocket is a 46-foot Terrier-Black Brant model that was sent arcing through the aurora 217 miles above Earth, sending a stream of real-time data back before landing 200 miles downrange. Instruments on board sampled electrons in the upper atmosphere that are affected by a form of electromagnetic energy called Alfven waves. These waves are thought to be a key driver of “discrete” aurora — the typical, well defined and famously shimmering lights that stretch across the horizon.

The rocket payload separated into two parts once launched. One extended antennae to measure electric fields generated by the aurora. Other antennae and sensors measured electrons and ions interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field. In this period of high sun activity, called solar maximum, gases from the sun are likely interfering with GPS transmissions, satellite Internet and other signals.

“We are becoming more dependent on these signals,” Powell said. “This will help us better understand how satellite signals get degraded by space weather and how we can mitigate those effects in new and improved GPS receivers.”

Joe Schwartz | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.cornell.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems
08.12.2016 | Nagoya Institute of Technology

nachricht Will Earth still exist 5 billion years from now?
08.12.2016 | KU Leuven

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: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Closing the carbon loop

08.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Applicability of dynamic facilitation theory to binary hard disk systems

08.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D

08.12.2016 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>