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"Space Balloons and Killer Electrons" w/ Dr Alexa Halford

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Streamed live on Oct 21, 2014

One of the ultimate goals of heliospheric physics is to be able to predict geomagnetic storms as one predicts terrestrial weather. However, we've only been in space for about 60 years and we're still trying to figure out what it's like up there. That's where the BARREL (Balloon Array for Relativistic Radiation belt Electron Losses) Mission in collaboration with the Van Allen Probes comes in. With the BARREL payloads we can study the loss of electrons from the Earth's radiation belts. These electrons are known culprits for causing problems with our technology, and affect the health of astronauts in space and flight crews on airlines. As of today we are able to look at (and are getting better at nowcasting, and a bit of forecasting) largish scale events analogous to  pressure systems, but even one random strike of lighting can have a great affect if you are in it's path. This becomes an even larger problem as we consider forecasting space weather at other locations in our solar system, e.g. Mars. We still have a lot to learn about the physics of what occurs up in space, about the different types of events in the Sun-Earth system, and about what types of space weather events affect technology and life on our planet. During the presentation I will share some of the exciting things we are studying within the Sun-Earth system focusing on events occurring within our inner magnetosphere, and a few  quick glances at analogous problems observed at other planets. More information is available on the BARREL website: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~barrel/ and via this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWmDN...

Dr. Alexa Halford is a researcher in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Dartmouth College. She currently is working with the BARREL project, a NASA mission of Opportunity working in tandem with NASA's Van Allen Probes. The goal of these missions is to better understand the dynamics of the Earth's radiation belts. Many of these processes are observed not just on Earth, but also on other planets throughout our solar system allowing for comparison studies and ultimately a better understanding of the physics involved. More information is available on her website: http://alexahalford.weebly.com

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