Colloquium: Dr. Eftyhia Zesta, NASA Goddard Space Center
Space Weather is how we describe the many impacts manifested in our Geospace environment as a result of our active Sun that is continuously ejecting parts of its outer atmosphere. The most spectacular and damaging effects on the Earth are seen during magnetic storms that occur when coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the Sun impact our magnetosphere. Auroras intensify and move farther equatorward, ground induced currents (GICs) caused by auroral currents impact power lines, dangerous radiation floods our Geospace and threatens all human assets there, radio communications are disrupted, and the thermosphere upwells and increases the drag suffered by low Earth orbiting (LEO) satellites, shortening their lifetime. As human functions increasingly depend on space assets, the need to reliably forecast space weather intensifies. Reliable forecast demands proliferation of observations, something that can be accomplished with inexpensive Cubesats. Cubesat missions and their capabilities have exploded with innovations in both flight systems and instrumentation during the last decade. I will be discussing space weather phenomena as well as Cubesat development and flight efforts at GSFC.