Thursday, August 8, 2013

Long time no posts, What's coming up.

Sorry for the radio (or internet) silence. After GEM I was a bit sick and then went out west. I got to visit with Michael who builds all of our spectrometers.  I got to see  how they are built, tested, and put together.  I unfortunately don't have photos of those, but the campus at University of Washington is beautiful! They also have a good sized space physics department.  I'll have to make sure to stop by there more often when I'm on the West Coast. We got to talk a lot of science which is always fun and exciting. 

Granted I also went whale watching. One can't work all the time. 

But now it's back to the grind stone and I've been catching back up for the last few weeks and preparing for this next fall. It's going to be a busy one. 

First up; next week a few of us will be going to the Van Allen Science Working group meeting in Iowa. We'll be having a Van Allen conference in the Van Allen Hall

Van Allen was an amazing man. He and his grad students were the first to discover the radiation belts around the Earth. The data collected by the Australians and gathered by Sputnik could have been the first, but since they were on two different sides of the cold war, the data wasn't processed until after Explorer 1 had already launched and confirmed the existence of the inner radiation belt. As you may have guessed the Van Allen Probes were named in honour of him and are now the latest Satellite mission focused on studying and understanding the radiation belts. 

We are connected to this since BARREL is a mission of opportunity under the Van Allen Probes. The Van Allen probes have an amazing set of instrumentation to look at what is happening out in space, but they can't see what happens on the ground. That's where we come in. We are essentially on the ground and thus can add to their measurements and help gain a more complete picture of what is happening with space weather events. At the conference we'll have some break away sessions focused on combining our data and we're starting to see some fantastic results! We also have a few events that we're scratching our heads over. We might need a few more missions to give us a few more data points before we understand the radiation belts completely. 

At this workshop we'll also be formally sitting down and discussing how to best go about coordinating this coming campaign. Remember all those daily e-mails and postings? If you have any suggestions and wont be at that workshop, let us know what you thought of them and how they can be improved.  

About a week after that I'll be heading to IAGA in Mexico to present an invited BARREL talk. It should be a great conference. The session I'll be presenting in is on what causes precipitation of particles into the ionosphere and upper atmosphere (just what we measure)  and how it can ultimately affect the atmosphere. I'm excited because a bunch of people from my old Grad School institution will be there giving  me a chance to brush up on my Aussie slang. I'm sure I'll make a galah of myself. A number of people will also be there from BAS. Hopefully we'll have a chance to all sit down and chat about some of the magnetometer data that they have as well as riometer data.  The magnetometer data will show us what types of waves were observed at those locations while the riometers also look at particle precipitation (particles lost to the atmosphere). It makes a nice addition to our data. When we're looking at the same locations it's a check on what we are both observing and when we're in different locations it allows us to have more data points to look at. 

Some of the team will be heading to the ECT (Yes their full name is R-B-S-P-E-C-T and they do command a lot of respect) workshop at the University of New Hampshire just down the road from us. It will be a quick workshop, but should be really informative and useful! They take care of many of the particle measurements and data on the Van Allen probes so can tell us what particles are up in space while we say which ones got lost to the Atmosphere. 

Meanwhile, I'll be heading to the Cluster Workshop in Norway. Hopefully we'll be able to get some great collaborations started. This coming campaign we're hoping to have some conjunctions with the Cluster spacecrafts just like we had and will have again with the Van Allen probes. Since there is a bit of a time difference between Europe and the US (especially with the West coast), I'm hoping that we'll figure out the best way to communicate quickly and efficiently when we've launched a balloon, when one has been cut down, and when we're likely in a conjunction with the satellite (when to try to get the best data possible). Also it will be good to know how much lead time they need if any at all. 

That's not the end of everything thing for this fall, we all just submitted our abstracts for Fall AGU 2013. Most of the team will be there and even those who can't physically be in San Francisco due to having to travel down to the ice (Antarctica) will have papers. It should be exciting with a ton of great results! 

Of course this is not all that is going on. We all have different projects that we are trying to get finished so that we can publish some GRL's in the Van Allen Probe special issue. We are still building payloads for this coming campaign, and they will all need to be shipped! We are busy busy busy, but it's all good because it's keeping us out of trouble. 

I solemnly promise though to be better about posting. During this hiatus so many cool things about balloons or ballooning or just amazing things in science have gone on. However, this post is already long enough so we'll save them all for later. Just as a tease I'll mention that it includes but is not limited to puppets, a radio show, and rap.