Theresa Carranza Fulmer
Years participated in RESESS:
Academic Affiliation: University of Michigan
Science Research Mentor: Mark Moldwin, University of Michigan
Writing and Communication Mentor: Mark Moldwin, University of Michigan
Coach: Melissa Weber, UNAVCO
An introduction to inner magnetosphere plasma composition changes during Solar Cycle 23
Over the course of one solar cycle, fluctuations in the amount of solar energy, in the form of charged particles, can cause dramatic changes in the plasmasphere’s mass density. Understanding the dynamics of plasmaspheric mass density is important for understanding energy flow through the magnetosphere that in turn is impor- tant for satellite communications on Earth. Solar cycle 23 began on May 1996 and ended on December 2008. It had an unusually long solar minimum and low maximum compared to the last four solar cycles. This particular solar cycle has been the topic of discussion within the solar and space physics community. Our goal is to constrain the changes in plasmaspheric mass density between a solar minimum and maximum in order to observe how the plasmasphere density changes during this unusual solar cycle. We attempted to use an automated method created by Berube et al.  that combines the cross phase and power ratio method to determine resonant frequencies from magnetic field lines which are then used to calculate plasma mass density. We obtained our data from paired magnetometers from MEASURE array at L =1.74 and L =1.99 with a time resolution of one second. The time period of analysis for solar maximum 23 is the month of September in 2000 during the solar minimum and the month of February in 2005 during the solar maximum. We discovered that most of the syntax and methods in the original program have been deprecated. This project will next focus on the modification and update of the automated method, which will eventually enable further plasmaspheric research.