Groundbreaking studies of the earth's magnetosphere by researchers at UT Dallas received support from the Air Force with a three-year grant worth approximately $360,000, through the Young Investigator Research Program.
Dr. Lunjin Chen, assistant professor of physics at UT Dallas, has begun studying the effects of dissipation of energetic electrons trapped in the magnetosphere and how these interact with electromagnetic waves.
These electrons, when precipitating to the lower edge and toward the earth's atmosphere, can create the aurora effect seen in high-latitude skies. They are caught in the magnetosphere when released by the sun during solar flares, protecting the earth's atmosphere.
However, these electromagnetic storms can also pose threats to satellites and other devices. The study is designed to determine on a global scale the impact of these electrons in an area alone the magnetic field line, "which would be in the 1- to 10-kilometer range," Chen said.
The Young Investigator Research Program fosters creative research in areas of science and engineering, and it enhances professional development of outstanding early career investigators. The most recent round of grants dispersed more than $20 million to 56 scientists and engineers chosen from more than 265 proposals.
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