Research Brief: Insights Into the Ionosphere

By Koren Wetmore |

Look skyward on a winter’s night in the Northern Hemisphere and you may glimpse the beauty of the aurora borealis. Come sunrise, the same forces that spur its shimmering bands will likely wreak havoc with communication systems and GPS navigation.

Each time the sun beams a solar flare or lobs a coronal mass ejection (CME) toward our planet, a surge of charged particles strips electrons from gases in our atmosphere, resulting in the familiar glow and also dense plasma masses that refract, or delay, satellite signals.

Predicting where this plasma will travel remains one of the challenges of space weather forecasting. Now, with the help of a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Seebany Datta-Barua, assistant professor of aerospace engineering, hopes to shift the science closer to becoming as accurate as a meteorologist’s storm tracking…


Published in IIT Magazine | Illinois Tech