Modern technology has inextricably linked the space environment with the efficient functioning of our common society. Everything from the latest smart-phones and GPS systems to the electric power grid can be affected by perturbations in near-Earth space due to solar and magnetospheric storms originating on the surface of the Sun.
A deep understanding of the space environment is needed in order to reach a predictive capability to forecast these “Space Weather” events and assess quantitatively their impact on critical (and non-critical but widely used) military and civilian systems. AER has a long history of applied research in empirical and physics based modeling of the near-Earth space environment, and its effects on technological systems. See our Space Weather section for more information.
Studies of space far beyond the near-Earth realm and extra-planetary atmospheres also yield important results. The more we study the atmospheres of other planets, satellites, and comets, the better we can understand our own planet and the effects of extraterrestrial forces on it.
Research in planetary atmospheres at Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) is focused on the theoretical modeling of the local and extended atmospheres of these bodies, with a particular focus on understanding their relevant physical mechanisms and applying this knowledge to the explanation of observational data. These studies are helping us develop a comprehensive knowledge of the basic properties of these bodies as well as many fascinating interactions coupling the atmospheres, ionospheres, planetary magnetospheres, the solar wind, and the solar radiation field.