University of Kansas

Space Physics

Physics Undergraduate Contributes to the NASA ACE Mission

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The University of Kansas (KU) Department of Physics and Astronomy continues to contribute in pursuing NASA discoveries!

This time, KU is participating through the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) mission. ACE is designed to observe particles that originate from solar, interplanetary, interstellar, and galactic origins. The energy (radiation) ranges studied span from that of the solar wind to galactic cosmic rays.

ACE has been a coordinated effort to determine and compare the composition of several distinct samples of matter, including the solar corona, the interplanetary medium, the local interstellar medium, and galactic matter.

The ACE observatory consists of the spacecraft bus and 9 instruments and a data processing unit called EPAM. EPAM stands for Electron, Proton and Alpha Monitor. These electrons, protons, and alphas are considered to be energetic particles.

Once ACE reached its destination, which is located where the sun's gravity balances with the earth's gravity, it began sending back EPAM data regarding the radiation intensity from all directions in the sky. The EPAM data has been transmitted to the University of Kansas Department of Physics and Astronomy where Gene Holland, an undergraduate student, along with Professor T. Armstrong, began evaluating the measurements and converting them into an understandable form for scientific analysis and public information. Holland has prepared computer software that will receive the transmitted data.

Gene Holland gained the opportunity to get involved with NASA programs by contacting the Physics Department and Professor Armstrong directly. Many similar opportunities are to be found on the K.U. campus, but student initiative is needed to find them.

Last modified May 26, 2015
C. Graves and T. Hunt-Ward