Atmospheric Research Team Wins NASA Praise

Sep. 29, 2011

Rod Heelis and a group of scientists and faculty at UT Dallas have received a Group Achievement Award from NASA for their study of the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

The project, the Coupled Ion-Neutral Dynamics Investigation, or CINDI, examined the role of ion-neutral interactions within small and large-scale electric fields.

“In a way, NASA placed a lot of confidence in our ability to complete this research and contribute to the overall understanding of the upper atmosphere,” said Dr. Rod Heelis, the Cecil H. and Ida Green Chair in Systems Biology Science and director of the William B. Hanson Center for Space Sciences. “We are very proud of our team – faculty, research scientists and graduate students – that helped us achieve this success.”

Launched in spring 2008, the research team examines the composition, temperature, density and direction of flow of the ions and neutral particles in the upper atmosphere — anywhere from 400 to 800 kilometers above the Earth.

These data are used to understand how the sun’s radiation interacts with the Earth’s atmosphere to create disturbances and irregularities in the ionosphere.

UT Dallas scientists can study variations in the ionosphere and see how they change at different hours, days and seasons. The variations are important to note because they can interfere with the radio signals traveling between the Earth and satellites further out – disrupting communications and GPS.

“We hope that we can begin to accurately forecast when these outages will occur and how severe they will be,” Dr. Heelis said.

The $10 million research project is jointly sponsored by NASA and the U.S. Air Force.

Media Contact: Katherine Morales, 972-883-4321, [email protected]
or the Office of Media Relations, 972-883-2155, [email protected]
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Rod Heelis“We are very proud of our team – faculty, research scientists and graduate students – that helped us achieve this success,” said Dr. Rod Heelis.

The CINDI Project at UT Dallas

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Team Members

Dr. Robin Coley
Dr. Marc Hairston
Larry Harmon
Ben Holt
Ron Lippincott
Cindy Long
 Zac Morgan
Michael Perdue
Bob Power
Keith Stelzenmuller
Dr. Mary Urquhart
Brenda Walston

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December 10, 2019