Applications of our Research
Our near-Earth space is home to around 500 spacecraft worth ~US$100 billion operating in geostationary (6.6 Earth radii) altitude and low Earth (300-1000 km) orbits. There are 50-100 launches each year. All this infrastructure is exposed to space weather, the effects of solar activity in near-Earth space. The Halloween magnetic storm in 2003 adversely affected 59% of NASA’s Earth and space science missions and the Japanese Midori satellite totally failed.
Our research into the dynamics of near-Earth space aims to develop applications that support this large investment in communications and Earth observation assets.
There are two broad application categories:
(i) Understanding the physical processes in near-Earth space: Examples include substorm dynamics, energisation of killer electrons and monitoring the magnitude and dynamics of the base, cold plasma population.
(ii) Understanding the effects of space weather on technological systems on Earth: Examples include geomagnetic induced currents and their effects on pipeline corrosion and the mains electricity supply, HF radar surveillance systems and effects from ionosphere dynamics.