Wednesday, May 4, 2022

by Nicholas Stewart, Iowa's News Now

NASA selected the University of Iowa as one of three recipients of a $250,000 award for a study to help improve space weather forecasting.

Over the next four months, a team led by Assistant Professor David Miles at UI will develop and perfect plans for an instrument called a magnetometer. This instrument will better help understand how storms from the sun can affect vulnerable infrastructure on earth like the electrical grid.

If selected to move forward, this will be a first step to better forecast space weather events, similar to the way weather satellites were first launched in the 1960s to better forecast hurricanes, flood events and tornadoes on earth.

“Eventually, it hopes to enable a space weather forecast, but to get there we have to understand small things, medium things, and whole earth things,” Miles said. “To understand the underlying mechanics and the underlying physics, so we can hopefully forecast it.”

If NASA selects Iowa’s instrument, the magnetometer will be included in a fleet of satellites which is currently expected to launch as early as September 2027.