Student: Kawther Rouabhi, Undergraduate Student in Computer Science and Engineering, University of Iowa
Research Mentor: Professor Ananya Sen Gupta
Identifying and Tracking Solar Wind Ions in the Martian Magnetosphere from MAVEN Spacecraft Data
NASA’s Mars atmosphere and volatile evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft began its orbit around the red planet in September 2014 to investigate the effects of solar winds stripping away the atmosphere. Among MAVEN’s instruments is a solar wind ion analyzer (SWIA) that measures density, temperature, and velocity of the solar wind ions. Over the course of the multi-year mission terabytes of data have been collected, and for a human to analyze this data, it would be nearly impossible. Our research is centered on creating and fine-tuning an algorithm that will automatically detect the path and rate at which the solar wind ions travel. It does so by breaking down a spectrogram and identifying patterns in differential energy flux that point to the presence of solar wind. The same signal processing techniques for extraction can be performed for data analysis of various NASA missions, present, and future. The discoveries we make from MAVEN about what makes a planet’s atmosphere vulnerable offer insight into the evolution of our entire solar system and the future of its climate.