Center for Space Science and Engineering Research

Magnetosphere - Ionosphere Science Team (MIST)

The Magnetophere - Ionosphere Science Team (MIST) is a part of Space Physics Research Group at Virginia Tech. Several people in this team are located at the National Institute of Aerospace, in Hampton, Virginia. We primarily investigate the interaction between the Earth's "magnetosphere" and its ionosphere. The magnetosphere is the cavity formed by the interaction between the solar wind and Earth's main magnetic field, that is generated by electric currents deep within the planet's core. The ionosphere is the top-most layer of the atmosphere, extending into space, where the atoms have been ionized by the ultraviolet rays from the Sun, forming a conductive "plasma". The magnetosphere is also filled with plasma. The regions of the magnetosphere that have magnetic field line "footprints " in either of two, oval-shaped regions in the ionosphere surrounding the polar caps collectively account for the aurora. Large-scale current systems and other effects carry momentum and energy from high to lower altitudes, resulting in electric fields and currents in the ionosphere. The driving force of this energy flow is the solar wind and the "Interplanetary Magnetic Field," known as the "IMF," which is carried outward from the Sun by the solar wind. The electric currents in the ionosphere produce variations in the magnetic field at the surface of the Earth. Measurements of these variations with magnetometers are often used to study the Magnetosphere-Ionosphere system.

Space Physics Research Group at Virginia Tech

The Center for Space Science and Engineering (Space@VT) comprises a group of faculty, students and staff devoted to the investigation of the space environment. We presently include members from the Bradley Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering and the Center resides in the College of Engineering. Our mission is to provide forefront research, instruction, and educational outreach in the fields of space science and engineering utilizing a holistic approach of theoretical modeling, advanced simulation techniques, space system and instrument design, and experimental data acquisition, analysis and interpretation. To learn more, we invite you to explore the other links within the Space@VT web site. If you have comments or require additional information, please feel free to contact the center Director, Prof Scott Bailey ( ) or our center administrator Ms. Debra Collins ( ).