2016-2017 Science Planning Summaries
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2016-2017 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Using gravity waves to probe the solar atmosphere

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Vladimir Papitashvili

ASC POC/Implementer:
Samina Ouda / Paul Sullivan / Leah Street

Principal Investigator

Dr. Stuart Jefferies

Georgia State University
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Atlanta, Georgia


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station, South Pole Station
Research Locations: South Pole Solar Observatory


Researchers on this project will measure and characterize internal gravity waves omnipresent in the Sun’s atmosphere, identify their role in transporting energy and momentum, and use the properties of those waves to provide a mapping of the structure and dynamics of the Sun’s atmosphere. The data necessary to achieve these goals will come from two high-sensitivity and high-stability Doppler-magnetographs. The first is located at a remote site three to four kilometers from the South Pole; the second is the Helioseismic Magnetic Imager instrument located in outer space. The goal is to image the velocity fields with high spatial resolution at three heights in the solar atmosphere. The image data will allow the project to make the first detailed characterization of the properties of the internal gravity waves and to take a first step toward capitalizing on their potential as a diagnostic tool for probing the solar atmosphere.

Field Season Overview

In this, the first of two seasons, a team of four will deploy to South Pole Station at the beginning of the field season to assemble and test the instruments, and to deploy them to the South Pole Solar Observatory (SPSO), three to four kilometers from South Pole station. They will travel by snowmobile to and from their field site each day. Later in the season, two additional team members will arrive at South Pole and two from the original team will return to McMurdo. The four remaining at Pole will work as two-person teams, each covering 12-hour shifts at SPSO until the end of the season.

Deploying Team Members

  • Bernhard Fleck
  • William Giebink
  • Stuart Jefferies (PI)
  • Neil Murphy (Co-PI)
  • Garry Nitta