David Pawlowski, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Eastern Michigan University, has been awarded a $345,418 grant from NASA to study the upper atmosphere of Mars.
His project, “Understanding the Time-Dependent Responses of the Martian Upper Atmosphere to Solar Flares and Dust Storms” will take three years, and will provide an increased knowledge of the results of space weather on Mars, a planet that has lost its shielding global magnetic field.
“While there have been a few studies that examined the behavior of the Martian upper atmosphere during solar flares and dust storms, they’ve been limited in scope,” Pawlowski said in a Sept. 4 statement. “Those studies have only focused on the magnitude of the disturbances. They haven’t addressed the behavior of the underlying physical processes.”
Pawlowski will use technology and data both developed by himself and by NASA to analyze data obtained from several instruments, in combination with a 3-D global Mars whole atmosphere model. In a statement, he said the study of Mars will lead to greater understanding of space weather systems.
“In many ways, it’s different from the space weather here at earth,” he said. “By studying these processes on earth and looking at similar processes at other planets, we can learn a lot about both systems.”