University of Newcastle, Australia
This project provides a better understanding of the volatility of near-Earth space, a plasma region populated by ionised gas embedded in the geomagnetic field. Energy from the Sun must pass through many important regions and boundaries to reach Earth, including the magnetosphere and the ionosphere. The dynamic behaviour of this plasma system, now referred to as "space weather" is of vital importance to life on our planet, and its effects are best studied at high latitudes, eg, the aurora. Space weather can disrupt the operation of satellites, radio and GPS navigation and power distribution systems. The results of this project will provide important input parameters to global magnetospheric circulation models currently under development for space weather forecasting. In particular, it will study the dynamics and topology of the southern high latitude cusp and polar cap, geomagnetic field regions open to direct solar influence. Ultra-low frequency (ULF) waves will be used as tracers to study plasma dynamics and magnetosphere-ionosphere coupling. Scott Base magnetometer and optical imager data, in conjunction with international observations from Australian bases, and USA-UK-Japan-China polar cap remote sites provide the basic dataset.