The Northern Colorado Astronomical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the science of astronomy and to encourage and coordinate activities of amateur astronomers.

Download the Current Issue of the “Objective View” Newsletter: November 2016

December 1st, 2016 - Featured Speaker: Dr. David Malaspina

Earth’s Aurora and Radiation Belts: Exploration on the Edge of Space

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Speaker Bio: Dr. David Malaspina is a research scientist at the University of Colorado, Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.  He uses data collected from spacecraft to study the physics of the solar wind and Earth’s magnetosphere.  He has designed spaceflight hardware for a number of NASA missions, including the Van Allen Probes, Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS), and Solar Probe Plus. He lives in Lafayette, Colorado with his wife and their two children.  He enjoys hiking, road biking, and ultimate frisbee in his free time.   

Talk Abstract: The flowing curtains of light that we call the aurora are the most spectacular reminder that Earth is but a small island in a much larger space environment.  The aurora let us see with our own eyes that the weather in space can directly affect us here on Earth. As humankind ventures ever further from the relative safety of Earth’s surface, (living on the International Space Station, building a telecommunications infrastructure in geosynchronous orbit, traveling to the Moon and Mars) understanding how to predict and protect ourselves from space weather becomes ever more important.

In this talk, I will present a historical picture of how we came to understand space weather and its impacts on Earth.  Then I will address the growing importance of space weather to our society as we move beyond our home planet and reach for the stars. The talk will be centered around the aurora, Earth’s radiation belts, and connections between these two phenomena.  Special attention will be paid to new observations by NASA’s Van Allen Probes mission and Colorado’s central role in the study and prediction of space weather.

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