CSP Seminar Speaker: Alan Aylward (University College London)

April 4th, 2011 in In the News

Speaker: Alan Aylward
Affiliation: University College London

Title: Characterisation of Exoplanets: The Next Step

Date: Thursday, April, 7, 2011
Time:  3:30 PM Refreshments in CAS 500, 4:00 PM Talk
Place:  725 Commonwealth Ave. CAS 502

Abstract:
With over 500 exoplanets now detected and confirmed, and a list of several hundred more from Kepler awaiting confirmation, perhaps it is time to worry less about counting them and make more of an effort at characterisation. In the last week of February the European Space Agency announced the result of its down-selection of its next M-class mission. One of the 4 selected was EChO – the Exoplanet Characterisation Observatory which is designed to make measurements of the composition of the atmospheres of a range of exoplanets in size from Jovian down to “SuperEarth”. We will discuss how far characterisation of exoplanet atmospheres (and bodies) has come so far and what we expect of this new mission. We will also discuss briefly current work on 3-D global circulation models of Gas Giant exoplanets at UCL.

ECE Undergrad Works with Prof Semeter in Alaska over Spring Break

March 29th, 2011 in In the News

Genny Plant (ECE ’11) traveled with Professor Semeter and his team to Alaska over Spring Break to study the aurora. To read her story, please click here.

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CSP Seminar Speaker: Jonathan Makela (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

March 28th, 2011 in In the News

Speaker: Jonathan Makela
Affiliation: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Title: Multi‐sensor measurements of irregularities in the low‐latitude ionosphere/thermosphere system
Date: Thursday, March 31, 2011
Time:  3:30 PM Refreshments in CAS 500, 4:00 PM Talk
Place:  725 Commonwealth Ave. CAS 502

Abstract:
The nighttime ionosphere at low-­‐latitudes can be an extremely dynamic region of the Earth’s atmosphere. Irregularities in this region can cause scintillations on trans-‐ionospheric radio signals, such as those from satellite-­‐based navigation and communication satellites. These effects have been known and studied for decades, however there are still many unresolved questions as to their development, extent, and decay. Recent advances in instrumentation and measurement techniques have begun to be applied to this vexing problem. Results from the Remote Equatorial Nighttime Observatory for ionospheric Regions (RENOIR) project in northeastern Brazil are presented. This project brings together measurements from imaging systems, Fabry-­‐Perot interferometers (FPIs), and GPS receivers with the goal of understanding the coupling between the neutral and plasma environments that surround Earth and the irregularities that occur therein.

CSP Seminar Speaker: Jeffrey J. Love (USGS)

March 23rd, 2011 in In the News

Speaker: Jeffrey J. Love
Affiliation: USGS Geomagnetism Program

Title: Movie-Maps of Low-Latitude Storm-Time Magnetic Disturbance

Date: Thursday, March 24, 2011
Time: 3:30 PM Refreshments in CAS 500, 4:00 PM Talk
Place: 725 Commonwealth Ave. CAS 502

Abstract:
Using data from a numerous magnetic observatories around the world, we examine movie-maps of low-latitude magnetic disturbance for several large magnetic storms. The principle disturbance pattern seen in the movie-maps, and also in statistical analyses of long time series, is the well-known (but seemingly insufficiently recognized!) dawn-dusk asymmetry. The disturbance at dawn (dusk) is about 20% higher (lower) than Dst, and this is often interpreted in terms of partial ring currents. However, an examination of magnetic-field data from mid-latitudes shows, very clearly, that the dawn-dusk asymmetry is more consistent with field-aligned currents (Birkeland) directed inwards at noon and outwards at midnight (Crooker and Siscoe 1981). Partial ring current might contribute to the ground magnetic disturbance, but its contribution to local-time disturbance morphology is very small.

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Planetary Decadal Survey New England Regional Presentation

March 18th, 2011 in In the News

Planetary Decadal Surveyicon-yss

Date: Sat. 26 March 2011
Time: 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Place: Boston University

Rm 502, CAS Building, 725 Commonwealth Ave Boston

This meeting will begin with a presentation of the Planetary Decadal Survey by a member of the steering group, Joe Veverka. It will be followed by presentations on “who does what in New England” in planetary science, by a representative from each university.  Visit NASA’s Solar System Exploration site for more information on the decadal survey.

Schedule:

10:30 a.m.-Coffee

11 a.m. – Decadal presentation followed by discussion – Joe Veverka

Noon – Lunch will be served

1 p.m. – Short presentations on planetary science at NE schools (15 min each)

Cornell – Veverka (Clarke)                               Harvard – Sarah Stewart

U. New Hampshire – Jim Connell                  Boston U. – Paul Withers

Tufts – Sam Kounaves                                        Brown – TBD

MIT – Rick Binzel                                                 CfA-Arielle Moullet

4 p.m. – Final discussion and close

Students are welcome to attend!

Kindly RSVP by emailing nkcahill@bu.edu

View Center for Space Physics – Boston University in a larger map

Boston University Map

Parking: You will be able to park at the Granby Parking Lot on Commonwealth Ave.  It is $8 for the day.

http://www.bu.edu/csp/planetary-decadal-survey/

CSP Seminar Speaker: Kerri Cahoy (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

March 7th, 2011 in In the News

Speaker: Kerri Cahoy
Affiliation: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Title: Planets Near and Far: exploring new worlds with spacecraft radios and telescopes

Date: Thursday, March 10, 2011
Time: 3:30 PM Refreshments in CAS 500, 4:00 PM Talk
Place: 725 Commonwealth Ave. CAS 502

Abstract:
This talk highlights two methods for remotely sensing planetary atmospheres from space. The first method, Radio Occultation, relies on stable radios to probe the atmospheres and ionospheres of “near” solar system planets as the spacecraft fly by or orbit the planet. We show an example of how hundreds of radio occultation temperature, pressure, and electron density profiles from the Mars Global Surveyor orbiter can be used to detect signatures of complex atmospheric dynamics on Mars. Constellations of low-Earth orbiting small-sats equipped with radio occultation GPS receivers could provide real-time atmospheric tomography data and significantly contribute to monitoring Earth’s climate and space weather. The second method, Coronagraphic Direct Imaging of Exoplanets, allows us to detect and characterize the atmospheres of planets “far” outside of our solar system using a space-based telescope in a heliocentric orbit. We show simulations of these exoplanet measurements, and show how these measurements can help us tell whether planets in systems many parsecs away are like our own.

CSP Seminar Speaker: Timothy Guild (The Aerospace Corporation)

February 28th, 2011 in In the News

Speaker: Timothy Guild
Affiliation: The Aerospace Corporation

Title: Understanding magnetospheric plasma for its own sake, and for the benefit of the satellite engineering community

Date: Thursday, March 3, 2011
Time: 3:30 PM Refreshments in CAS 500, 4:00 PM Talk
Place: 725 Commonwealth Ave. CAS 502

Abstract:
Plasma observations in or nearby the magnetospheric cusp provide a powerful vantage point with which to remotely sense a large portion of the solar wind-magnetosphere boundary. Distant reconnection regions inject particles along field lines into the cusp with observable energy-time and energy-latitude signatures indicative of their origin. We here present preliminary plasma observations of high latitude ion dispersions near the earth’s geomagnetic cusp, and use these observable signatures to understand the nature of the injection at the magnetopause. The dispersions are observed with the Surface Charging Monitor (SCM), a top-hat electrostatic plasma analyzer on both vehicles of the Two Wide angle Imaging Neutral-atom Spectrometers (TWINS) mission of opportunity. The TWINS orbits are high-inclination elliptical orbits with apogees near 7 RE, and during certain seasons the sensors dwell in the northern cusp at apogee, providing a unique platform to statistically characterize these ion dispersions. By performing simple time-of-flight analysis on the dispersions, we determine that many map to the low-latitude flank, and some are periodic. These results are the beginning of a broader study to understand the distribution of magnetopause signatures observed at mid-altitude with minimal, or at least different, orbital selection effects.

CSP Seminar Speaker: Randy Gladstone (Southwest Research Institute)

February 23rd, 2011 in In the News

Speaker: Randy Gladstone

Affiliation: Southwest Research Institute
Title: A New Look at the Moon with LRO, LCROSS, & LAMP
Date:  Thursday, February 24, 2011
Time:  3:30 PM Refreshments in CAS 500, 4:00 PM Talk
Place:  725 Commonwealth Ave. CAS 502

Abstract:

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is well into its mission of conducting targeted investigations to prepare and support future human explorations of the Moon. Its seven instruments are mapping the surface at unprecedented resolution, with special emphasis on the lunar poles. The Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) is a far-ultraviolet (FUV) imaging spectrograph on LRO. Its objectives are to (i) identify and localize exposed water frost (and possibly other volatiles) in permanently shadowed regions (PSRs), (ii) characterize landforms and albedos in PSRs, and (iii) characterize the lunar atmosphere and its variability—including transients resulting from the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) impact. As a byproduct, LAMP will map the Moon at FUV wavelengths, allowing new studies of the microphysical and reflectance properties of the regolith. LAMP does this by measuring the signal reflected from the nightside lunar surface and in PSRs using both interplanetary Lya and FUV starlight as light sources. Both these light sources provide fairly uniform, faint illumination.

In the >17 months since the LRO Mapping Orbit Insertion on 9/15/2009, LAMP has spent most of the time accumulating UV photon lists from nadir-pointed observations, with only occasional off-Moon pointings for monthly stellar calibrations, limb atmosphere observations, and LCROSS support. Typical night-side count rates of only ~300-500 counts/s require that many months of data collection are needed before acceptably accurate albedo maps can be obtained.

LAMP successfully observed a plume containing H2, CO, Hg, Ca, and Mg that was generated by the LCROSS Centaur impact into Cabeus crater. The species detected by LAMP underscore the fact that water is not the only volatile likely to be found in abundance in the PSRs.

After an overview of the LRO mission, LAMP results from surface mapping, atmosphere studies, and LCROSS support will be presented.

CSP Seminar: 2/24 Randy Gladstone (Southwest Research Institute)

February 21st, 2011 in In the News

Speaker: Randy Gladstone
Affiliation: Southwest Research Institute

Title: A New Look at the Moon with LRO, LCROSS, & LAMP

Date: Thursday, February 24, 2011
Time: 3:30 PM Refreshments in CAS 500, 4:00 PM Talk
Place: 725 Commonwealth Ave. CAS 502

Abstract:
NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is well into its mission of conducting targeted investigations to prepare and support future human explorations of the Moon. Its seven instruments are mapping the surface at unprecedented resolution, with special emphasis on the lunar poles. The Lyman Alpha Mapping Project (LAMP) is a far-ultraviolet (FUV) imaging spectrograph on LRO. Its objectives are to (i) identify and localize exposed water frost (and possibly other volatiles) in permanently shadowed regions (PSRs), (ii) characterize landforms and albedos in PSRs, and (iii) characterize the lunar atmosphere and its variability—including transients resulting from the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) impact. As a byproduct, LAMP will map the Moon at FUV wavelengths, allowing new studies of the microphysical and reflectance properties of the regolith. LAMP does this by measuring the signal reflected from the nightside lunar surface and in PSRs using both interplanetary Lya and FUV starlight as light sources. Both these light sources provide fairly uniform, faint illumination.

In the >17 months since the LRO Mapping Orbit Insertion on 9/15/2009, LAMP has spent most of the time accumulating UV photon lists from nadir-pointed observations, with only occasional off-Moon pointings for monthly stellar calibrations, limb atmosphere observations, and LCROSS support. Typical night-side count rates of only ~300-500 counts/s require that many months of data collection are needed before acceptably accurate albedo maps can be obtained.

LAMP successfully observed a plume containing H2, CO, Hg, Ca, and Mg that was generated by the LCROSS Centaur impact into Cabeus crater. The species detected by LAMP underscore the fact that water is not the only volatile likely to be found in abundance in the PSRs.

After an overview of the LRO mission, LAMP results from surface mapping, atmosphere studies, and LCROSS support will be presented.

CAS Newsletter

February 16th, 2011 in In the News

In this week’s CAS Newsletter, the Earth Systems Forum was discussed.  The Earth Systems Forum gave participants an opportunity to compare notes on existing activities at BU related to the Earth’s integrated physical, natural, and societal systems, and from there develop a shared vision for research, teaching, and facilities related to “Earth Systems.”

To read more about this Forum, click here.