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!
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.
To learn more about our research, please contact Dr. Ludger Scherliess.
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.
- A look back at the Space Weather Center involvement with helping communications for Hurricane Irene. From Aerospace America, December 2011. D. Crider
- Space Weather Models and Operations. Space Weather opinion article. Tobiska, W. K., "Operational Space Weather Entering a New Era", Space Weather Quarterly, Vol. 6, Issue 4, 2009.
- New capabilities being developed for mitigating space weather effects. Three new systems for space weather operations: A new USGS Dst index, the Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation for Aviation Safety (NAIRAS), and the Global Assimilation of Ionospheric Radiation Measurments (GAIM). Tobiska, W. Kent, "New Space Weather Mitigation Capabilities". AIAA, 2009. "New Space Weather Mitigation Capabilities". AIAA, 2009.
- Implementation of operational space weather is largely unfunded and woefully undirected, with the exception of a few U.S. Air Force Weather Agency projects. A new vision is needed so that operational space weather can help solve 21st-century challenges. Tobiska, W. Kent, "Operational Space Weather Entering a New Era". Space Weather, Vol. 7, 2009. "Operational Space Weather Entering a New Era". Space Weather, Vol. 7, 2009.
- The same high-atmosphere disturbances that create the northern lights can also cause havoc for high-frequency radio. Poppleton, Jacoba, "Solar Storms: a communication problem". Research Matters, 2010.
- A presentation given at COSPAR 10, in Bremen, Germany. This is an outline of what is expected to be accomplished at the Space Weather Center. Tobiska, W. Kent et al, 2010. Comercializing space weather using GAIM
- A presentation given at COSPAR 10, in Bremen, Germany. This is an overview of the GAIM model, presented by Dr. Robert W. Schunk. Weather Disturbances in the IonosphereThermosphere System at Middle and Low Latitudes
- Smart phones are quickly becoming key tools in portraying and sharing space weather information. This article by W. Kent Tobiska, Geoff Crowley, Seung Jun Oh, and Madhulika Guhathakurta outlines the process of creating applications for displaying this vital ionformation. Space Weather Gets Real—on Smartphones
- Herb Carlson has been appointed as chief scientist and director of strategic planning for the Utah State University USTAR Space Weather Center team. The former chief scientist for the United States Air Force Office of Scientific Research joined the team in March 2010. Herb Carlson Apointed as Chief Scientist
- USU researcher, Center for Atmospheric and Space Sciences director and USTAR Space Weather Center founding member, Robert Schunk, and USTAR Space Weather Center director and president of Space Environment Technologies, Kent Tobiska, were recently invited to participate in the National Research Council Decadal Survey for Research to Operations.
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 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