2002-2003 Science Planning Summary

Aeronomy & Astrophysics

Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili
Program Manager


NSF/OPP 99-09339
Station: South Pole Station
RPSC POC: Paul Sullivan
Research Site(s): Aurora Lab in the Skylab Building, ARO

Effects of enhanced solar disturbances during the 2000-2002 solar-max period on the Antarctic mesosphere-lower-thermosphere (MLT) and F regions composition, thermodynamics and dynamics
Dr. Gulamabas G. Sivjee
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
Space Physics Research Laboratory

Deploying Team Members: Justin A Bartee . Richard D Browning . Lisandro M Martinez . Charles K Mutiso . Johnathan J Pesce . Steven N Sedlack . Gulamabas G Sivjee
Research Objectives: Variations in the sun's energy affect people in obvious ways, for example, driving the weather and the seasons. However, there are many cycles and variations on scales from seconds to centuries to eons that are of deeper interest to science. One of the most basic is the 11-year cycle when the sun's magnetic poles reverse direction. The 23rd cycle since reliable observations began has just recently peaked. Coincident with this cycle, sunspots and other solar activity are waxing to peak levels.

NASA is using this opportunity to conduct its TIMED (Thermosphere-Ionosphere-Mesosphere-Energetics and Dynamics) satellite study, focusing on the region between 60 and 180 kilometers above the earth's surface.

This project takes advantage of the timing of both of these events, using observations in the visible and near-infrared ranges of upper-atmospheric emissions above South Pole Station to study the heating effects of auroral electrical currents in the ionosphere, as well as planetary waves and atmospheric tides.

TIMED will provide data on the temperature, winds, and tides of earth's upper atmosphere, especially above the poles as it passes overhead. But tracking satellites often have difficulty differentiating between variations in location or time. The South Pole ground-based observations conducted by this group will be valuable in sorting out the time-location question.

Field Season Overview:
Project team members will maintain and service the Michelson Interferometer, the spectrometer, the photometer, and the data-acquisition system in Aurora Lab in the Skylab Building. Construction personnel will build a new dome on the roof of the Atmospheric Research Observatory (ARO) and install a new charge-coupled device (CCD) spectrograph . This project receives year-round science technician support for maintenance, data collection, backups, and transmission to principal investigators.