Associate Professor David Miles has been named Principal Investigator of the Tandem Reconnection and Cusp Electrodynamics Reconnaissance Satellites (TRACERS) Mission following the passing of Prof. Craig Kletzing in August.
In naming Dr. Miles as PI, Nicola J. Fox, Associate Administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate noted his close association and knowledge of the TRACERS project and science as well as his leadership as deputy TRACERS PI and the PI of the MAGIC technology demonstration project on TRACERS.
In 2019, a team led by Kletzing won a $115 million contract from NASA for TRACERS, the single largest externally funded research project in University of Iowa history. TRACERS is a pair of satellites that will study how the solar wind, the continuous stream of ionized particles escaping the Sun and pouring out to space, interacts with Earth’s magnetosphere, the region around Earth dominated by our planet’s magnetic field. The linchpin of that interaction is the phenomenon of magnetic reconnection, an explosive transfer of energy that can happen when two magnetic fields meet.
TRACERS is currently in Phase C, which includes the final design of the mission and building of the two satellites.