Solar Physics Installation to Get Upgrade

NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 6 (UPI) — An array of radio antennas in California will be upgraded to help answer questions about solar flares and their impact on Earth, researchers say.

A $5 million National Science Foundation grant will be used to upgrade and expand the antennas at the Owens Valley Solar Array near Big Pine, Calif., operated by the New Jersey Institute of Technology, an institute release said Wednesday.

“Space weather incidents such as coronal mass ejections and solar flares can cause problems with cellphone reception, GPS systems, power grids and other technologies,” NJIT Professor Dale Gary, an expert in solar radio physics and instrumentation, said. “We hope that by improving radio frequency observations of the Sun we can learn better information and make new discoveries about the nature of these phenomena.”

Images of the Sun taken at radio frequencies are the only way to measure the magnetic fields that power flares, he said.

“Radio observations can also track solar eruptions longer and at greater distance from the sun than other ground-based techniques, so researchers can visualize them better,” said Gary.

The three-year grant will increase the size of the existing telescope array from seven to 15 radio antennas.

“When the expansion of this facility is completed three years from now, it will be the largest of its kind in the U.S.,” he said.

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Categorized | Other, Solar
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