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Space Weather Monitors -- A Global Education and Small Instruments Program for the IHY 2007

Scherrer, D K; Mitchell, R; Cohen, M; Clark, W; Styner, R; Roche, A; Scherrer, P; Inan, U; Lee, S; Winegarden, S; Tan, J; Khanal, S

Earth's ionosphere reacts strongly to the intense x-ray and ultraviolet radiation released by the Sun during solar events and by lightning during thunderstorms. Students around the world can directly monitor and track these sudden ionospheric disturbances (SIDs) by using a receiver to monitor the signal strength from distant VLF transmitters, and noting unusual changes as the waves bounce off the ionosphere. Stanford's Solar Center, in conjunction with the Space, Telecommunications and Radioscience Laboratory and local educators, have developed inexpensive ionospheric disturbance monitors that students can install and use at their local schools. Students "buy in" to the project by building their own antenna, a simple structure costing little and taking a couple hours to assemble. Data collection and analysis are handled by a local PC. Stanford is providing a centralized data repository where students can exchange and discuss data. Two versions of the monitors exist -- a low-cost version (nicknamed "SID") designed to detect solar flares, and a more sensitive version ("AWESOME") that provides both solar and nighttime research-quality data. Both monitors are currently being placed in high schools and community colleges around the US. Students will have the opportunity to work with a researcher "mentor" to collect and interpret data. Our space weather monitors have been chosen as educational and small intruments projects for deployment to 191 countries around the world for the International Heliophysical Year, 2007. Our presentation will focus on the educational aspects of the Space Weather Monitor program.

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