CUSP Science Projects for 2003-2005:       J. Dana Hrubes, Cusp Science Research

1) A-102-S         Conjugate and High Time Resolution Studies of ULF Waves and Magnetospheric Dynamics Using Ground-Based Induction Magnetometers (Augsburg College): Micro pulsations in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by the solar-terrestrial interaction, the solar winds, are measured at the South Pole. This information is used with other data collected at other sites and satellites are used to help develop models of the magnetosphere to ultimately aid in the prediction of space weather.


2) A-103-S            Search for Extrasolar Planets (NASA Ames – SETI Institute):  An optical telescope will be used at the South Pole to search for and characterize extrasolar planets by continuously following a southern galactic star field with a charge-couple device photometer and searching for the periodic dimming that occurs as a planet transits its parent star. The South Pole is an excellent location to detect such planets because randomly phased transits can most efficiently be detected during the six month long winter night.


3) A-108-S            ELF/VLF Waves (Passive) (Stanford):  Plasmas occur in the magnetosphere and the ionosphere, and they can be transported and accelerated by a variety of different wave particle interactions. One important dynamic in this system is particle precipitation that is driven by extra-low-frequency/very-low-frequency (ELF/VLF) waves.  Measuring these waves and their characteristics at multiple locations, including the South Pole provides data to better understand and to model and predict the Earths magnetosphere processes and solar-terrestrial interaction.

VLF Real Time Data from the South Pole


4) A-108-S            VLF Beacon Transmitter (Stanford) : Relativistic electrons- measured at geosynchronous orbit with energies of more that 300 kilo electron volts appear to fluctuate in response to sub storm and solar activity. During such events, these highly energetic electrons can penetrate as low as 30 to 40 kilometers above the surface of the earth. At that latitude, they can severely disturb the atmosphere, ionizing chemical species, creating x-rays, and perhaps influencing the chemistry that produces ozone. A VLF beacon transmitter with a 7 kilometer-long antenna will help to measure solar effects on the mesosphere and lower ionosphere. The transmitted VLF signal, at 19.4 kHz will be received a t various station in the Antarctic. The extent of the relativistic electron precipitation can be calculated from variations in the amplitude and phase of the received VLF signals. The received signals will also produce other data as well on solar proton events, relativistic electron precipitation from the outer radiation belts, and information on Joule heating components of high-latitude/polar cap magnetosphere/ionosphere coupling processes.




5) A-111-S         Broad beam Riometry, IRIS (Imaging Riometer System) & DAS (Data Acquisition System), (University of Maryland, UMD):  Studies of the polar ionosphere and magnetosphere are conducted using riometers (relative ionospheric opacity meters). These instruments monitor the magnitude of cosmic radio noise that reaches the surface of the earth. Cosmic radio noise, which is broadband RF energy emitted by stellar sources, is absorbed by the ionosphere. The amount of absorption (attenuation) is directly proportional to the ionospheric electron density. An increased electron density, which also is indicative of auroral activity, corresponds to a decrease in cosmic radio noise or an increase in solar terrestrial activity fro the solar winds. There are four individual broad beam riometers at 20.5 MHz, 30 MHz, 38.2 MHz, and 51.4 MHz. In addition, there is a phased riometer array (Imaging Riometer for Ionospheric Studies, IRIS) that provides a spatial map of the entire sky at 30 MHz.

                           The Cusp Lab also has the UMD Data Acquisition System (DAS), which records data from projects, A-102-S, A-106-S, A-111-S, A-112-S, A-120-S; which is sent, via satellite, to UMD.



6) A-112-S         Fluxgate Magnetometer (Bell Labs):  Magnetometers installed at the South Pole to measure changes in magnitude and direction of the Earth’s magnetic field. This data, in conjunction with data from other sites, permits examination of the coupling of the interplanetary medium into the dayside magnetosphere particularly the magnetospheric cusp region and to help explain the causes and propagation of low frequency hydromagnetic waves throughout the magnetosphere.


7) A-120-S         Cosmic Ray Detector (U of Delaware, Bartol Research Institute):  This experiment detects and counts neutrons that are created by collisions of cosmic rays, i.e., atomic nuclei and electrons, with molecules of the upper atmosphere. Cosmic rays from outer space and our sun, traveling near the speed of light, continuously bombard the earth. Data from the neutron detectors advances the understanding of fundamental plasma processes occurring on the sun and in interplanetary space.


8) A-128-S         LF/MF/HF Radio Observations (Dartmouth):  Radio waves at low, medium and high frequency are detected using a versatile electromagnetic waveform receiver. The Earth’s aurora emits a rich variety of radio waves in these frequency bands originating from interaction between the auroral electron beam and the ionospheric plasma. This information is correlated with magnetometer data, VLF data, and riometer data to better understand and model the Earths upper atmosphere and magnetosphere.


9) A-136-S         ELF Waves Over the Antarctic (Dartmouth):  This project detects magnetic field fluctuations in the extremely low frequency (ELF) band at the South Pole, specifically auroral ion cyclotron waves, which have been well correlated with flickering aurora. This information is used to test models of auroral acceleration mechanisms, as well as the study of dispersive ELF waves, which may provide information on substorm onset or the boundaries of open and closed magnetic fields.    

10) A-255-M/S  Infrared Measurements of Atmospheric Composition (U. of Denver):  Using passive infrared spectrometers, the year round atmospheric chemistry will be measured to acquire better data for the photochemical transport models used to predict ozone depletion and climatic change. The ozone hole has shown how sensitive the southern polar stratosphere is to chlorine, and although gradual reduction of the hole is expected, model predictions indicate a possible delay in recovery due to the impact of global warming on the catalytic ozone destruction process.



11) G-052-M/P/S  GPS/CORS Reference Station (USGS):  Continuous acquisition, cataloging, and dissemination of Global Positioning System (GPS) data are the primary objectives of this project. The Department of Defense operates a constellation of satellites orbiting approximately 20,000 kilometers above the earth. Each satellite is in a circular orbit with a period of 24 hours and an inclination of 55 degrees to the equator. These satellites broadcast information that GPS receivers can decode as distance measurements to the satellites, and, by combining this information received from multiple satellites, the position of the receiver can be determined. Continuous data recording results in accurate position information for this Antarctic reference station and provides information, used with data from other reference stations, to assess and refine satellite orbits (station keeping).