April 30, 2008 NASA-funded researchers have published a new four-dimensional computer model of Earth’s ionosphere. Any interested person may, without leaving the house fly through the layer of ionized gas surrounding the Earth on the very edge of space. All that is required - just an Internet connection.
"It’s just amazing development - says physicist Lika Guhatakurta (Lika Guhathakurta) from NASA headquarters in Washington, DC. - The ionosphere is important to pilots, ham radio, scientists, and even the military. Using this new 4D tool, they can effectively monitor and study the ionosphere as if they are in it. "
The ionosphere is, in a sense - the farthest frontier of our planet. It is the last layer of the Earth’s atmosphere that astronauts leave behind, going into space. The ionosphere begins at an altitude of 50-80 kilometers and has a thickness of up to 400 kilometers, where the atmosphere is practically turns into a vacuum and becomes defenseless against the unbridled fury of the sun. Solar ultraviolet radiation breaks up the molecules and atoms, creating spanned the entire planet atmospheric haze of electrons and ions.
Ham radio operators know very well what the ionosphere. Not only do they communicate with each other using the signals reflected from the ionosphere, but also have to wait a period of radio silence, or "radio eclipse" when a solar flare attack the ionosphere with X-rays. The ionosphere also has a big impact on satellite navigation. Before the signal from the GPS satellite to reach Earth, he must pass through ionospheric gases that distort, reflect and attenuate radio waves. Solar and geomagnetic storms that adversely affect the ionosphere can cause errors in the determination of the location of 100 meters. Imagine a pilot flying on instruments and approaching the runway when landing just before he discovers that the band is at a distance of a football field away from the current rate.
"The best way to evaluate a new 4D model of the ionosphere - is to work with her," - says Tobiska Kent (Kent Tobiska), president of Space Environment Technologies. Here are the instructions how to sdelat.V this video clip Kent Tobiska shows an example of use of the program (20 Mb).
"The colors represent electrons - explains Tobiska - bright red - high density of electrons. This is the place where radio communications are limited to a few frequencies. Blue stands for low density - there is no problem with communication." Using the intuitive interface of Google Earth, users can fly above, around and through these regions getting a true three-dimensional representation of the situation. The fourth dimension - time. The developed system - a system of real-time, updated every 10 minutes. We’ll tell you the top news of science and technology, more detailed and interesting.