HomeAstronomy & SpaceScientists develop low-cost system to measure space weather without leaving the ground

Scientists develop low-cost system to measure space weather without leaving the ground

A research team from Nagoya University’s Institute of Space-Earth Environmental Research (ISEE) built a magneto-impedance sensor magnetometer (MIM). It will measure variations in the Earth’s geomagnetic field using an Aichi Steel Corporation sensor.

Geomagnetic fluctuations are closely related to phenomena occurring in space. So, upper atmospheric and space physics researchers can use the MIM to determine the status of space weather from the ground without the use of satellites. The findings were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics.

Many people believe that space is a vacuum. But it is actually filled with space plasma, which is made up of charged particles held in hot gas. These particles collide with the Earth’s magnetic field and produce “space weather” that effects such as geomagnetic storms and space auroras. It can harm satellites, space stations, and astronauts. Despite the importance of space weather monitoring, it is difficult for a device to stay in space and continuously monitor the space environment.

Environmental changes that occur in space can be observed from the ground. Because they are transmitted as electromagnetic waves along the Earth’s magnetic field. Unfortunately, standard approaches to making such observations do not always work. Because weak magnetic field fluctuations must be captured.

In collaboration with Aichi Steel Corporation, Associate Professor Nosé of ISEE has developed a low-cost system to measure the Earth’s magnetic field using the magneto-impedance (MI) effect. It was discovered in 1993 at Nagoya University. The Aichi Steel Corporation sensor initially measured only the AC components of the geomagnetic field. But the researchers extended the measurement range by incorporating a magnetic-flux locked loop circuit in the MI sensor.

The newly developed MIM is appropriate for observing phenomena such as storms caused by an increase in solar wind dynamic pressure and long-period geomagnetic pulsations. It is also lightweight, energy efficient, and reasonably priced. This should make building a multi-point observation network easier. It potentially speed up space environment monitoring and space weather research.

Nosé installed the MIM for a month of continuous observation at the Mineyama observatory near Kyoto, Japan.

More information: Masahito Nosé et al, Application of Magneto‐Impedance (MI) Sensor to Geomagnetic Field Measurements, Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics (2022). DOI: 10.1029/2022JA030809


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