Projects

The students will engage in project-based activities designed to highlight the main topics.

Project 1 - Ionospheric disturbances: sources on the Sun and their consequences near the ground level

Objectives:

Learn about ionization of the upper atmosphere layers, main ionization sources. Learn about ionospheric parameters (f0F2, hmF2, TEC, ROTI etc.) and relation between them. Learn about the coupling between the magnetosphere and the ionosphere. Learn how ionospheric disturbances affect our infrastructure.

Study variations of an ionospheric parameter at middle-latitudes associated with solar flares (sequences of flares). Study variations of an ionospheric parameter  associated with geomagnetic storms. Compare ionospheric responses during these two types of space weather events.

Mentor: A. Morozova
 

Project 2 - Geomagnetic disturbances: sources on the Sun and consequences near the ground level
Objectives:

Learn about coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and corotating interaction regions (CIRs): sources on the solar surface, characteristic properties of the solar wind structures associated with these two events. Learn about interaction of the solar wind with the Earth’s magnetosphere and conditions for storms. Learn about the ground effect of geomagnetic storms.

Study geomagnetic storms with different sources (CME- and CIR-driven): solar and IMF conditions, magnetospheric response at middle latitudes, both the variations of the geomagnetic indices (Dst, Kp) and the variations of the geomagnetic field (GMF) measured at the ground level. Compare GMF responses during these two types of space weather events.

Mentor: A. Guerrero

Project 3 - Radiation hazards for humans (astronauts & aircraft pilots and the crew)
Objectives:

Learn about the health effects of radiation due to space weather events, which affects astronauts, aircrafts pilots and crew. For instance,  typically, at aircraft cruising altitudes the flux of ionising radiation is ~300 times higher than at sea level but it is extremely unlikely to produce adverse health effects for individuals who are exposed. However, during strong space weather events the exposure increases and also the health risks. For astronauts the situation is even more delicate.  

Study the several radiation sources and the space weather events associated that can increase the radiation exposure and the parameters that affect astronauts, aircraft pilots and crew exposure to radiation.

Mentor: T. Barata

Project 4 - Cosmic Rays in the heliosphere
Objectives: 
Learn about cosmic rays in the heliosphere and about their observational properties. Observe and analyze the long-term modulation of galactic cosmic rays using long-term measurements of sunspot number and ground-based neutron monitors. Observe and analyze an example solar energetic particle event using spacecraft particle data. Magnetic connectivity of the spacecraft to the particle source site will be analyzed using a simple Parker spiral model. Observe and analyze in situ spacecraft plasma and magnetic field data, as well as ground-based neutron monitor data to study an example of a corotating interaction region (CIR) and the interplanetary coronal mass ejection (ICME) with corresponding Forbush decreases observed by ground-based neutron monitors.
Mentor: M. Dumbović
Project 5 - CME propagation and solar wind interaction – forecasting CME impacts
Objectives: 
Learn about the drag force acting between CME and solar wind. Understand the physical process depending on CME size, speed, solar wind density, speed etc. Learn how to forecast transit times of CMEs, impact possibilities, CME arrival speed – all relevant for predicting geomagnetic effects. For that, derive from remote sensing image data the 3D geometry of CMEs close to the Sun and their de-projected speeds (based on visual fitting methods using idealized CME shapes). Get the solar wind speed from either models or use in-situ measurements.

Choose one of the September 2017 CME Events (around September 6-10) and make a prediction on arrival time and speed and compare to in-situ measurements using the following tools.

Mentor: S. Heinemann
Project 6 - Machine Learning reconstruction of the 3D Solar Coronal Loop
Objectives: 

The magnetic field plays an important role in the dynamics of different solar phenomena that take place in the corona.

For example, one of the techniques used to derive the 3D structure of the coronal magnetic field are the magnetic field extrapolations using the photospheric magnetic field as a boundary condition. In the particular case of the coronal loops (loop-like magnetic structures that contain high-temperature plasma observed in the EUV), this technique can be complemented using stereoscopy, where at least two view directions of the same loops are used to reconstruct their 3D structure. Although this method presents good results, it has the significant limitation of the need for data taken from two view directions of the same target at the same time.

In this project, we propose developing and implementing, using Machine Learning techniques, a convolutional neural network to perform the same task using only the 2D information from one viewpoint of the coronal loops observed in the EUV.

Mentor: R. Gafeira
Project 7 - The one thousand and one faces of the Sun - Understanding solar data and their use in operational monitoring
Objectives: 

From radio waves to X-rays, passing through a plethora of different types of solar images, the variety of solar data can result somewhat overwhelming. During this project, the students will analyze a selection of solar activity events using different types of data and instrumentation. They will learn what information can be obtained from each one of them and how to combine that information to get a broader picture of the situation. Combining this scientific understanding with an operational implementation, the students will use what they have learned to create a basic real time solar monitoring protocol.

Mentor: M. Flores-Soriano

Project 8 - Sun-to-Earth connectivity, identifying solar wind and particle sources and propagation
Objectives: 

Learn about advanced methods to determine the propagation paths and temporal delays of different types of solar disturbances to Earth. Identify the most likely source regions of solar wind or of energetic particles that reached Earth during different past events, and develop strategies to assess the uncertainty of the corresponding estimations.
Measurements of the solar wind properties made in-situ at the lagrangian L1 point will be used to help assess the quality and uncertainty of the connectivity predictions. Data from spacecraft at different positions may be used to provide additional information, as well as corographic and heliospheric imaging.
Try to move on from past-event analysis to the production of Sun-to-Earth connectivity forecasts with a few-days lead time.

Mentor: R. Pinto