Roderick A. Heelis, PhDDirector, Center for Space Sciences
Distinguished Chair in Natural Sciences & Mathematics
B.S., Mathematics (First Class Honours), University of Sheffield, England
PhD, Applied and Computational Mathematics, University of Sheffield
Dr. Heelis’s research interests focus on understanding the interaction of planetary environments with the Sun. For the Earth this interaction is influenced by the atmosphere and the magnetic field and directly affects the successful operation of space-based communication and navigation systems.
My primary research interests center around the analysis and interpretation of data from Earth orbiting satellites. These data describe the density and motion of charged particles in the upper atmosphere. Theses particles are strongly influenced by the Earth’s magnetic field and by electric fields that arise from motions of the atmosphere and the interaction of the planet with the interplanetary medium.
Our data sources from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program and from FormosaSat-1 are very extensive and with data visualization tools we are constructing a global description of the dynamics of the charged particles and how it changes in response to variations on the Sun. In 2006 we will launch a new satellite-based experiment to examine the relationships between charged and neutral motions at low latitudes in the upper atmosphere. New instrumentation being flown in this mission will require extensive development of software to produce geophysical parameters that will make up a unique data set that has never before been available from space.
Computer models of the upper atmosphere and ionosphere can also be extremely useful in studying the Earth’s space environment. With these models we conduct numerical experiments to understand the extremes of behavior that can be achieved with different drivers for electric fields. Comparisons between these numerical results and experimental data from space and from the ground are an important part of the analysis and interpretation procedures that we undertake.
In addition to these scientific studies I’m also interested in new techniques to obtain thermal plasma measurements and reduce the data. Among my present interests in this area are cylindrical section collectors and methods for deriving constituent ion temperatures in the upper atmosphere
- Updated: July 24, 2013