Thomas Immel, Research Physicist

Closed (1) Analysis of NASA ICON data from Earth orbit

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

**Correction** - Apprentices needed for the **Fall** 2021 semester. URAP applications will be accepted online beginning Wednesday, August 18, 2021. The deadline to apply is **9AM** Monday, August 30, 2021.

Earth's space environment has many interesting properties. This project will be to look at the effects of the lower atmosphere on this environment, and specifically how plasma densities in the ionosphere at ~ 300 km are modified by drivers originating in the lower atmosphere. Specifically, these include gravity waves (atmospheric waves with a restoring force of gravity) and atmospheric tides. The goal of this project is to analyze the observations of the Ionospheric Connection Explorer (ICON) mission currently on orbit, and develop analysis methods for the flight data.

Student will become familiar with attributes of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere. Student will become knowledgeable of ICON data products and investigate trends in the wind velocity in 100-300 km altitude range, the temperature at 100 km, ionospheric density profiles from 100-400 km, the neutral density and composition of the upper atmosphere, as well as the motion of plasma at the altitude of the observatory.

Student will work to analyze trends in specific data products and work to assess the relation of the measured parameters. Investigations that follow include 1) studies of the source of day to day variability in the ionospheric densities, 2) studies of the tidal structure of the upper atmosphere and how it is impressed on related atmospheric/ionospheric properties, and 3) investigations of the atmospheric/ionospheric responses to geomagnetic storm activity and the role of tidal structure in modifying these responses.

Students can compare observations with general circulation models of the ionosphere-upper atmosphere including TIEGCM ( and physics-based ionospheric-specific models including SAMI3 (, both of which are part of the ICON data pipeline.

Outcomes will include

1 A new scientific understanding of our variable space environment
2 Experience with scientific computing in a Unix computing environment

Outcomes could include

3 Presentation and or publication of research results.

Possibilities include co-authorship on research publications involving ICON, and conference papers, which may include attendance at the Fall 2021 AGU meeting (, and summer conferences such as CEDAR (

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Dan Zevin, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: The student should be interested in physical sciences, but engineering disciplines are also welcome. The URAP student should be comfortable programming in Python, or eager to learn it. Knowledge of other programming languages including C, IDL or Matlab should provide adequate background. Scripting languages such as perl or csh will also be useful. Interest or experience in a Unix environment including shell scripts is needed.

Weekly Hours: to be negotiated

Off-Campus Research Site: With classes set to return to campus in Fall 2021, assume all work will take place at the Space Sciences Lab. Remote work options to be determined.

Related website: