Thursday, April 6, 2023
Jolene Pickett

Jolene Pickett, a researcher in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded a $62,099 grant from NASA to study data from the Cluster mission's Wide Band Data (WBD) plasma wave instrument.

The Cluster mission consists of four spacecraft in a polar orbit around Earth launched in 2000 and is a joint project of the European Space Agency and NASA.  Pickett is the principal investigator for the project, taking over when UI Prof. Donald Gurnett, stepped down as the original PI in 2006.  She plans the science data operations of the four WBD instruments in order to obtain the maximum scientific return. 

Pickett's research primarily centers on various plasma waves, nonlinear solitary waves, and Auroral Kilometric Radiation (AKR) generated in Earth's auroral acceleration region.  The Cluster spacecraft are once again exploring this region (previously 2009-2013), prior to spacecraft re-entries starting in September 2024. She is also working with Prof. James LaBelle of Dartmouth University and Dr. Keith Yearby of the University of Sheffield, who works with Cluster WBD data, on coordinating observations of AKR in space with those made from South Pole Station in Antarctica with Prof. LaBelle's receivers.  AKR does not normally penetrate to the ground, but is sometimes observed during Antarctica winter.  The researchers are using both types of coordinated data to help understand this phenomenon.