by Quirino Sugon Jr
Ateneo Physics faculty Clint Dominic G. Bennett attended two workshops at the Abdus Salaam International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Italy. The first was the Workshop on the use of Ionospheric GNSS Satellite Derived Total Electron Content Data for Navigation, Ionospheric and Space Weather Research last 20-24 June 2016. The second workshop was the International Beacon Satellite Symposium 2016 last 27 June to 1 July, 2016.
GNSS is the Global Navigation Satellite System, a term which encompasses the Global Positioning System (GPS) of US and the GLONASS of Russia. GNSS satellites send positioning information to receivers on Earth via radio waves which pass through the ionosphere, where their propagation directions are bent or reflected in the same way as light beams pass from air to water. Comparing the satellite positions from the transmitted and received values provides information on the density of electrons in the ionosphere, positions of ground-based receivers, and the effects of solar activity on the ionosphere.
The Beacon Satellite Symposium 2016, on the other hand, was organized by Beacon Satellite Group of the International Union of Radio Science (URSI) Commission G. The symposium provides an opportunity for international ionospheric scientists to meet and collaborate on the study of ionospheric effects on radio propagation for science, engineering, and research applications.
Below is an interview with Mr. Clint Bennett by the Ateneo Physics News:
1. Where did you go to in Italy?
I went to the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics to the attend the Workshop on use of Ionospheric GNSS Satellite Derived Total Electron Content Data for Navigation, Ionospheric and Space Weather Research last 20 – 24 June, 2016 and the International Beacon Satellite Symposium 2016 last 27 June to 1 July, 2016. The workshop focused on training the participants in using existing TEC calibration software and explaining the results in terms of Space weather events as indicated by indices such as Kp and Dst. The symposium on the other hand was actually a conference with plenary and parallel sessions. It was organized by the Beacon Satellite Studies Group of URSI Commission G, an interdisciplinary group, servicing science, research, application and engineering aspects of statellite signals observed from the ground and in space. There were around 200 participants in the symposium.
2. Who invited you to go to the conference?
I was invited by Dr. Endawoke Yizengaw from the Boston College Institute for Scientific Research. He is one of the Principal Investigators of the AMBER (African Meridian B-field Education and Research) project. The Manila Observatory is hosting two of the magnetometers for this project and Dr. Yizengaw has been here in Manila Observatory. My transportation and accommodation were shouldered by the conference organizers and sponsors: ICTP, ICG, Boston College and EGU.3. Did you present something?
A lot of us were invited as students and were not required to make a presentation. This is their way of encouraging Space weather research in third world countries. We were instead required to do exercises on TEC calibration and make a group report.
4. What are the talks that you found interesting? How are they related to your work at Manila Observatory and the Department of Physics?
There were a lot of interesting talks. One of them was about the direct forcing of the thermosphere and ionosphere by small-scale gravity waves originating from the lower atmosphere. In the upper atmosphere gravity waves directly affect the thermospheric circulation by energy and momentum deposition and an interesting result is that gravity waves cool the upper atmosphere at a rate of -150 K per day.
Another one was about the detection of tsunami driven events in the ionosphere via occultation. They reported the ionospheric response to the great Tohoku earthquake and tsunami which occurred together with a minor magnetic storm. It was nice to learn that tsunamis can drive gravity waves to the ionosphere.
5. What are the interesting places and landmarks you visited?
The Beacon Satellite Symposium included an excursion to Aquileia. It is listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site. It is an ancient Roman city in Friuli Venezia Giulia. It was one of the worlds largest cities during the Roman times and is now a major archaeological site with so much still to be excavated.
6. What are some key insights that you learned after the conference?
The Beacon satellite symposium is evidence of growing interest in the study of Sun-Earth interaction. It has attracted a wide variety of international researchers from over 40 countries, a lot of them from non-academic institutions, to study the earth’s ionosphere and thermosphere and I think the Philippines can be part of this. It would be a big step forward if I could encourage students to be involved in this field of research.
7. Do you have any parting message to our physics students?
There are so many ways for students to get involved in the study of Space Weather. The international community makes an effort to direct funding towards problems that face the world as a whole, such as space weather effects and monitoring of natural hazards. These creates the availability of financial support for students from third world countries.
Excavations in the ancient Roman city Aquileia in Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy