Personal Space Weather Station

 

The Personal Space Weather Station project ultimately aims to create a small, multi-instrument system that can make ground-based measurements of the space environment.  The observations from this project will not only be useful to the owner of the system, but also aggregated into a central database for space science and space weather research purporses. Initial work focuses on the development of a scientific-grade high frequency (HF) radio receiver, as well as the necessary software and network infrastructure. This project is led by the The University of Scranton, in collaboration with the Tucson Amateur Packet Radio, Inc. (TAPR)Case Western Reserve University / Case Amateur Radio Club W8EDU, the University of Alabama, the New Jersey Institute of Technology Center for Solar Terrestrial Research (NJIT-CSTR), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Haystack Observatory.

PSWS Components

The Personal Space Weather Station is a modular system, with each module being developed by a different team. Visit the links below to learn about the different parts of the PSWS.

Research Questions

The PSWS project is motivated by questions both from the amateur radio and science communities.

Science Questions

  • How does the ionosphere respond to inputs from space and from the neutral atmosphere?
  • How does the ionosphere couple with the neutral atmosphere and with space?
  • What are the sources of medium and large scale traveling ionospheric disturbances?
  • What are the causes of Sporadic E?

Amateur Radio Questions

  • How do disturbances such as solar flares, geomagnetic storms, and traveling ionospheric disturbances affect radio wave propagation?
  • How does ionospheric science help amateur radio operators improve communications?
  • How can I make measurements in my own backyard that will help improve my amateur radio operations?

Get Involved

We are always looking for new people to get involved! Projects include system design and testing, data acquistion, and data analysis. Visit our Get Involved page to learn how to join the HamSCI Community.

PSWS Resource Links

Please visit the Space Weather Station Working Page for a variety of links and resources related to the HamSCI PSWS Project.

Acknowledgments

We gratefully thank the many volunteers who make this project run, as well as the support of National Science Foundation Grants AGS-2002278, AGS-1932997, and AGS-1932972.

 

The HamSCI teams at the University of Scranton W3USR and Case Western Reserve University W8EDU were recently awarded a 3-year collaborative National Science Foundation grant to study impacts of the 2023 and 2024 Solar Eclipses on the ionosphere, as well as ionospheric variability that occurs during every day dawn and dusk. The project will be led by Nathaniel Frissell, W2NAF at Scranton and David Kazdan AD8Y, John Gibbons N8OBJ, Rachel Boedicker AC8XY, and Christian Zorman at Case Western. Kristina Collins KD8OXT, Bill Engelke AB4EJ, Steve Cerwin WA5FRF, Phil Erickson W1PJE, Mary Lou West KC2NMC, Bob Gerzoff WK2Y, Rachel Frissell W2RUF, and the entire HamSCI Grape Personal Space Weather Station team played a significant role in winning this grant. NSF funding will provide for about thirty Personal Space Weather Station Grape receivers to be deployed throughout North America. Their locations will be optimized to study the ionospheric impacts simultaneously received from WWV (Fort Collins, CO) on 5 and 10 MHz and CHU (Ottawa, Canada) on 3.33, 7.85, or 14.67 MHz. The HamSCI amateur radio community will be able purchase and field additional stations. All stations will run continuously from deployment through at least the end of the project, and will capture the 2023 and 2024 eclipses. If you would like to participate, please join our Google Group and weekly Grape telecons!

As Solar Cycle 25 begins, amateur radio operators look forward to the return of the exciting propagation conditions associated with solar maximum. The classic paradigm for solar cycle prediction is based on an 11-year sinusoidal pattern of sunspot numbers, with an official NASA-NOAA "consensus" prediction coming from a panel of experts evaluating an ensemble of different types of models. However, the underlying solar cycle mechanism is still not well understood and this consensus prediction can fall short. Scott McIntosh at the U.S. National Center of Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and his team have recently published a new method for predicting the time and amplitude of solar maximum, based on changes in the observed magnetic polarity in different regions of the sun. This new method predicts a stronger Solar Cycle 25 than the NASA-NOAA "consensus" prediction. HamSCI member Frank Howell K4FMH teams up with Dr. McIntosh to review this new methodology and its potential impacts on how we think about solar cycle predictions in a two-part article series currently featured on the cover of RSGB's RadCom magazine. More information can also be found at Frank's blog.

In November 2021, Dr. Martin Archer asked the HamSCI and Amateur Radio Community for help in determining the best way to sonify ultra low frequency (ULF) plasma waves measurements. Those results have just been published! From Dr. Archer:

"Our sense of sound can be a powerful tool in exploring and analysing data collected from satellites. But what is the best way to make this data audible? Space science researchers at Imperial College London asked for your input on which methods of making the sounds of near-Earth space audible produce the best results. We’re pleased to announce that the results of this survey have now been published in Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences. The feedback was invaluable, providing clear recommendations on which methods were best. These are now being used by space scientists around the world to improve their science communication, public engagement, and citizen science. Thank you!"