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Lecture with NASA’s Dr. Sarah Jones, June 7: “The Upper Atmosphere: Where Space Weather Meets Earth Weather”

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This post was authored by Stephanie Marcus, Science Reference Librarian in the Science, Technology, and Business Division.

NASA image of the commercial satellite carrying the GOLD instrument

The dance between the ionosphere and the thermosphere is complicated!  At the boundary between Earth and space, charged particles and fields co-exist with Earth’s neutral atmosphere and cause a continual tug of war between the neutral and ionized gases.  This region is buffeted by Earth weather from below and the Sun’s radiation from above.  Events such as hurricanes can create waves that travel all the way up to this region, while the Sun frequently releases blasts of solar material that can have an impact at the same time.  This changes the shape of the very boundary between Earth and space and can garble some of the signals being transmitted from our satellites.

Dr. Sarah Jones will help us untangle the processes at play in this region and share how two of NASA’s newest satellite missions, GOLD and ICON, aim to determine just how weather shapes our interface to space.  Dr. Jones is the Mission Scientist for Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD), which is led by the University of Central Florida. GOLD successfully launched in January 2018 and is scheduled to begin science operations in late 2018. The GOLD instrument will provide a global measure of thermospheric temperature and composition.

ICON, The Ionospheric Connection Explorer, which will launch around June 14, 2018, will study the physics of this region of near-Earth space.  This is the area through which radio communications and GPS signals travel.  Variations there can result in distortions or even complete disruption of signals, so given our dependence on these technologies; this mission has very practical applications and can pave the way to mitigate some of these disturbances.

Date:  Thursday June 7, 2018

Time:  11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Place:  Pickford Theater, 3rd floor, Madison Building

For inquiries about this program, contact Stephanie Marcus in the Science, Technology & Business Division at [email protected] or the division office at: (202) 707-1212. Individuals requiring accommodations for this event are requested to submit a request at least five business days in advance by contacting (202) 707-6362 or [email protected].

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