I study plasma physics of the heliosphere, including the solar wind, planetary magnetospheres, and planetary ionospheres. Topics of particular interest include: high frequency plasma waves, wave-particle interactions, solar wind dynamics, cosmic dust impacts on spacecraft, and spacecraft charging. To enable these studies and others, I develop scientific instrumentation for spacecraft, focusing on the measurement of electric and magnetic fields as well as on signal processing techniques and hardware. Past and current instrumentation projects include the Electric Fields and Waves (EFW) instrument on the Van Allen Probes mission (studying Earth's radiation belts), the FIELDS instrument on the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission (MMS) (studying magnetic reconnection), the FIELDS instrument on the Parker Solar Probe mission (studying solar wind heating and acceleration), the RAPS instrument on the COUSIN sounding rocket payload (studying ionosphere-thermosphere coupling), and the AETHER instrument on the Geospace Dynamics Constellation (GDC) (studying ionosphere-thermosphere coupling). Future instrumentation projects will explore the lightning generated whistler waves in low Earth orbit and the plasma environment at the lunar surface.
ASTR 1030 - Accelerated Introductory Astronomy 1
Fall 2020 / Fall 2021
Covers principles of modern astronomy summarizing our present knowledge about the Earth, Sun, moon, planets and origin of life. Requires nighttime observation sessions at Sommers-Bausch Observatory. Required in ASTR major/minor. Like ASTR 1000 and 1010, but taught at a higher intellectual level, including a significant amount of quantitative analysis. Degree credit not granted for this course and ASTR 1000 or ASTR 1010.
ASTR 3400 - Research Methods in Astronomy
Introduces research methods in astronomy and engages students in an active research project. The research projects will vary and may include astronomical observations, data analysis, scientific programming, theoretical models and statistical inference. As part of their research, students will read scientific papers, attend local seminars and prepare oral and written research proposals and reports. Elective for ASTR majors.
ASTR 3760 - Solar and Space Physics
Explores the physical processes linking the Sun and planets, emphasizing solar radiative and particulate variability and the response of planetary atmospheres and magnetospheres. Topics include the solar dynamo, solar wind, coronal mass ejections, cosmic ray modulation, magnetospheres, aurora, the space environment, and climate variability. Recommended prerequisite: PHYS 3310. Elective for APS major and minor.
ASTR 5300 - Introduction to Magnetospheres
Introduces solar and stellar winds, and planetary and stellar magnetospheres. Acquaints students with the guiding center theory for particle motion, magnetospheric topology, convection, radiation belts, magnetic storms and substorms, and auroras.