The Space Weather Underground: Early Results from A Student-Built Array of Ground-Based Fluxgate Magnetometers in Northern New England

Friday, 11 December 2020
Charles William Smith1, John A. Blackwell2, Lily Ercoline3, Scott Goelzer4, Andria Johnson5, Harald Kucharek6, Marc Lessard7, Richard Levergood8, Whitham D Reeve9, Michael R Routhier7, Nathan Schwadron7, Abigale S Watson10 and Carol Young5, (1)University of New Hampshire Main Campus, Space Science Center, Durham, NH, United States, (2)Phillips Exeter Academy, Science, Exeter, NH, United States, (3)ConVal Regional High School, Peterborough, NH, United States, (4)Coe-Brown Northwood Academy, Northwood, NH, United States, (5)ConVal Regional High School, Science, Peterborough, NH, United States, (6)Univ New Hampshire, Durham, NH, United States, (7)University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH, United States, (8)Londonderry High School, Londonderry, NH, United States, (9)Reeve Engineers, Anchorage, AK, United States, (10)Wentworth Institute of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Boston, MA, United States
We are constructing a regional ground-based fluxgate magnetometer array in northern New England that will facilitate the study of local ionospheric dynamics with data available to everyone in the scientific community. The purpose of the array is to measure the propagation of local magnetic disturbances across the ground and reconstruct the current systems that are responsible for the transient activity. The array data can be combined with magnetometers in other regions and in space. Each instrument is constructed from SAM-III fluxgate kits by high school students at schools distributed across New England. The magnetometers have a 1 nT sensitivity and 1 sec data cadence. A completed fluxgate with weatherproof housing, photovoltaics, radio data downlink, and GPS for accurate time tags costs $1100. Our goal is to have more than 15 sites distributed across Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and upstate New York. We currently have 5 sites already producing data, 3 of which are now feeding data into the SWUG Data Center that exists in a preliminary form. The technology is developed and proven to work. The array and data center are scalable. Our goal is to involve motivated high school students in the building of scientific instruments, the analysis of real scientific data, and to use that effort to provide motivation for learning core math, physics, engineering, and computer programming lessons as they explore possible career paths for the future. In the process, we will be generating useful scientific data that will be available to all.