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USU Space Weather Center

The Utah State University (USU) Space Weather Center was created as part of an initiative by the State of Utah USTAR program to help create a vibrant economy in Utah related to space weather. Located on the USU campus in Logan, Utah, the Center is developing innovative applications for mitigating space weather in technical systems. The ionosphere is a key region that affects communication and navigation systems of the space environments that are affected by space weather. The USTAR initiative is developing products to reduce adverse effects of the ionosphere on these types of systems. Please visit our site as we grow!

Space Weather Center logo

The Space Weather Center at USU has developed and provided real-time, operational products for customers that help them mitigate adverse space weather effects on communication and navigation systems. This includes two broad areas of product development: radio communications and navigation.

Contact Us

To learn more about our research, please contact Dr. Ludger Scherliess.

Space weather proposal team

Space Weather Center Proposal Team (L-R): Lie Zhu, Jan Sojka, Ludger Scherliess, Donald Thompson, Robert Schunk

Projects of Note

GAIM Realtime Data: Global

Real-time global GAIM (Global Assimilation of Ionospheric Measurements) ionosphere data started on September 1, 2009. SWC began operations of the global Gauss-Markov GAIM system on its servers. Real-time ionosphere data of total electron content (TEC) and time-dependent electron density profiles are generated every 15 minutes.

The motivation for developing GAIM is because government and commercial users have a critical need for reliable high-frequency (HF) communications and for accuracy knowledge in GPS-based navigation systems. To satisfy this need requires an accurate specification of the effect that the upper atmosphere/ionosphere has on operational communication links and navigation systems. Like the Earth’s lower atmosphere, the Earth’s upper atmosphere and ionosphere (ionized gas) display highly variable and turbulent densities, temperatures, and winds, and these features are manifestations of space weather. These disturbances can adversely affect systems and operations, including over-the-horizon radars, HF communications, Global Position System (GPS) navigation, and GPS aided geo-location. Ionospheric corrections are particularly important for accurate location knowledge and for obtaining usable communication frequencies between two geographic locations.

The Utah State University team at the Space Weather Center has developed a data assimilation model of the Earth’s upper atmosphere/ionosphere that is similar to the tropospheric weather models run by NOAA. This space weather model, which is called the Global Assimilation of Ionospheric Measurements (GAIM), provides real-time specifications and forecasts for global distributions of upper atmosphere/ionosphere densities, temperatures, and winds. The GAIM space weather model originally became an operational Air Force model at the AFWA in December 2006.

The commercially operational GAIM Gauss-Markov global ionosphere data began with 357 TEC stations (the IGS network) with up to 10,000 measurements ingested every 15 minutes. The real-time data is assimilated into the Ionosphere Forecast Model (IFM), a background physics-based ionosphere.

GAIM Realtime Data: Continental U.S.

Real-time continental U.S. regional GAIM ionosphere data started on November 18, 2009. SWC began operations of the region continental U. S. (CONUS) GAIM Gauss-Markov ionosphere system to produce a high resolution definition of ionosphere parameters. GAIM CONUS uses 424 USTEC station (the CORS network) with up to 10,000 measurements ingested every 15 minutes.

The continental U.S. (CONUS) Gauss-Markov GAIM system runs operationally on SWC servers. The real-time ionosphere data of total electron content (TEC) and time-dependent electron density profiles are generated every 15 minutes using the CORS U.S. GPS network of approximately 400 stations with multiple slant TEC measurements taken at each station. There are approximately 10,000 slant TEC measurements ingested every 15 minutes in the GAIM system.



Peer Reviewed Publications

  • An article summarizing advancements in data assimilation techniques written by Dr. Robert Schunk, Dr. Ludger Scherliess, Dr. Jan J. Sojka, Dr. Donald C. Thompson, and Dr. Lie Zhu. It covers new tools, the Gauss-Markov model, and what steps will follow.
  • A list of papers associated with the GAIM model from various authors at and/or in connection with Utah State University.

Technical Reports

  • Technical Report 001 describes three different Empirical Atmospheric Models and the different aspects of the upper atmosphere. Included with the models are examples of data output and information regarding how the models were built. Hansen, David B., "Examination of Three Empirical Atmospheric Models". Utah State University Space Weather Center Technical Report, TR2010-001, 2010.
  • The Space Weather Community Operations Workshop Report includes best practices and lessons learned which were discussed at the 2012 Space Weather Community Operations Workshop. The 2012 meeting was the second annual meeting. A meeting for 2013 is currently being planned. Representatives from 11 organizations were present at the workshop. Space Weather Community Operations Workshop Report