Radio Astronomy
Monitor space weather effects in real-time

Stanford Space Weather Monitor Program

Participate in the Stanford Space Weather Monitor program and monitor real-time effects of space weather on Earth's ionosphere using inexpensive equipment developed by the Stanford Solar Center.

Most Radio Amateurs are very familiar with strong effects space weather has on radio signal propagation via Earth's ionosphere, especially Sudden Ionospheric Disturbances (SID) that make radio communications over long distances difficult or impossible for periods of time. Most also are familiar with other important effects such as when space weather triggers beautiful auroras that disrupt radio communications on some frequencies while enabling communications on others, and when space weather causes damage to communication satellites, disturbs Earth's magnetic field, disrupts commercial power distribution systems, and other things.

Space weather in the region near Earth is determined primarily by solar electromagnetic radiation storms, coronal mass ejections, and disturbances of Earth's magnetic field caused primarily by the Sun. Changes in near-Earth space weather can be observed by monitoring the strengths of Very Low Frequency (VLF) signals propagated between points on Earth via the ionosphere. Stanford Space Weather Monitors receive VLF signals transmitted by Navy submarine transmitters to determine current ionospheric conditions. With the Navy transmitting VLF signals that serve as signal beacons (the difficult end of the system) it is only necessary to receive and measure the strengths of those signals after propagation via the ionosphere to observe changes in ionospheric conditions caused by changes in space weather.

Stanford Space Weather Monitor

The Stanford Space Weather Monitor program is an education project to build and distribute inexpensive ionospheric monitors like the one above to high school and community college students around the world so they can actively observe effects of space weather changes and learn more about underlying scientific principles and measurement technologies. Even though the program is aimed at educating high school and community college students; Amateur Radio operators, amateur astronomers, university teachers, researchers, and others with related technical knowledge are needed to help local students setup and learn to use the equipment. If you are able and willing to help students in your area setup and learn to operate a space weather monitor, first visit the Stanford Space Weather Monitor website to learn more about the program and then let the Stanford SID program know your location, abilities, interest and willingness to help.

It is a goal of the Stanford Space Weather Monitor Program to have multiple space weather monitors installed and running in 191 countries during International Heliophysical Year 2007 (IHY 2007), so participants are needed throughout most of the world.

There is additional information about the program on the Stanford Solar-Center home page.

If you are interested in radio astronomy also see the Radio JOVE Project.

 


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