Probing near-Earth space with ionospheric radars

Dr Adrian Grocott, Physics, Lancaster University

Tuesday 17 December 2013, 1015-1040
Management School Building

The Earth's magnetosphere is a highly dynamic region of magnetic and electric fields that mediates the interaction between our planet and its Sun. Invisible to the light and heat which give us life, the magnetosphere protects us from many of the more harmful elements, which emanate from the Sun in the form of a solar wind of energetic particles.

Although much of this wind is deflected safely around us, some penetrates into the magnetosphere leading to space weather phenomena such as the radiation belts, geomagnetic storms and the aurora. This inflow of solar wind energy also drives a large-scale circulation of plasma in the magnetosphere and ionosphere. In this talk I will discuss how we use ground-based radars to observe this ionospheric circulation, and how our understanding of magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling enables us to trace these observations back into near-Earth space to elucidate the origins of the phenomena they describe.