The Michigan Engineer News Center

Smallsats could help predict solar storms

The Sun can be a destructive neighbor, and Thomas Zurbuchen weighs in on space-based sensors to provide timely and accurate warning of approaching CMEs.| Short Read

Scientists have known for a century and a half that the Sun can be a destructive neighbor. In 1859 a solar storm observed by British astronomer Richard Carrington sent a cloud of charged particles slamming into Earth, overloading the new telegraph networks taking shape then. Some of them shut down as spikes in surge currents through the wires started fires and shocked operators.

The so-called Carrington event—known to scientists as a coronal mass ejection (CME)—was a blip on the technological continuum compared to what would happen under the same celestial circumstances in today’s wired world. The global infrastructure is interconnected in ways that stretch humanity’s ability to understand the consequences of a CME of comparable energy scoring another direct hit. We may find out, and soon.

Thomas Zurbuchen, a professor of space science and aerospace engineering at the University of Michigan, weighs in on the opportunities and challenges of emerging space-based sensors to provide timely and accurate warning of approaching CMEs.

Read the full article in Aviation Week & Space Technology [Subscription required]

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The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read