To Infinity and Beyond

Does space weather impact Earth? UT Arlington professor wins NASA grant to find out

UTA professor wins NASA grant to study how space weather impacts Earth

outer space
What happens in outer space impacts life on Earth. Photo by
Dr. Yue Deng is a professor at UT Arlington
Physicist Yue Deng has won two NASA grants while at UT Arlington. Photo courtesy of UTA
outer space
Dr. Yue Deng is a professor at UT Arlington

It seems everyone has a theory about who to blame for weird weather. But not everyone has half a million dollars from NASA to back it up. University of Texas at Arlington physics professor Yue Deng won a $534,000 grant to study how space weather events affect Earth.

Deng's research will explore how solar flares impact electrodynamics in the Earth's atmosphere.

"Almost all the influence of space weather on our society is affected by dynamics in the upper atmosphere. Neutral wind in the upper atmosphere is very difficult to model and measure, but it is still one of the most important parameters to consider," Deng said in a statement announcing the grant.

Scientists in Alaska and Illinois will assist Deng in her research, which will draw data from satellites and other machinery in Alaska, Brazil and Germany. 

Deng hopes to one day predict radiation bursts that affect electricity grids, near-Earth satellites and air traffic radar. "If not properly anticipated, the bursts can disrupt energy delivery systems, communication technology and airline activity," Deng said.

This marks the second NASA grant Deng has secured to study space weather. In 2013, Deng received $408,000 to examine how solar winds influence the Earth's atmosphere through the development of the Global Ionosphere-Thermosphere Model.

"Dr. Deng’s continued NASA support is a strong endorsement of the valuable role she is playing in pushing past limits in our understanding of the Earth and its atmosphere," said Pamela Jansma, dean of the UT Arlington College of Science.