WVU physics student to study effects of geomagnetic storms - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

WVU physics student to study effects of geomagnetic storms

Posted: Updated:
  • Local NewsLocal NewsMore>>

  • UPDATE: Power Restored to Over 400 in Raleigh County

    UPDATE: Power Restored to Over 400 in Raleigh County

    Monday, September 1 2014 12:33 PM EDT2014-09-01 16:33:12 GMT
    Emergency crews are responding to a downed tree on the 300 block of Stovall Road in Glen Morgan Monday (9/1) morning.
    Emergency crews are responding to a downed tree on the 300 block of Stovall Road in Glen Morgan Monday (9/1) morning.
  • Update: Names Released in Deadly Crash in McDowell County

    Update: Names Released in Deadly Crash in McDowell County

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:54 AM EDT2014-09-01 15:54:18 GMT
    Fatal Car Accident in McDowell CountyFatal Car Accident in McDowell County
    Two people were killed in a car crash Sunday, August 31. Troopers at the Princeton detachment of the West Virginia State Police said three people were traveling from Cheers in Princeton back home to Northfork when they crashed on Route 52 near Switchback. One man and one woman were killed and one man was sent to Bluefield Medical Center. Troopers told us in a statement made by the survivor, the man said the driver was drunk and driving too fast on wet roads when they lost control of the car.T...
    Two people were killed in a car crash Sunday, August 31. Troopers at the Princeton detachment of the West Virginia State Police said three people were traveling from Cheers in Princeton back home to Northfork when they crashed on Route 52 near Switchback. One man and one woman were killed and one man was sent to Bluefield Medical Center. Troopers told us in a statement made by the survivor, the man said the driver was drunk and driving too fast on wet roads when they lost control of the car.T...
  • Update: New Information Released in Raleigh County Murder Investigation

    Update: New Information Released in Raleigh County Murder Investigation

    Monday, September 1 2014 11:48 AM EDT2014-09-01 15:48:36 GMT
    Joe Collins is arrested on murder chargesJoe Collins is arrested on murder charges
    The Raleigh County Sheriffs Office made an arrest Sunday after a man was murdered in Glen White.Joe Collins was arrested and is being charged with 1st degree murder for the shooting and killing of Larry Totten.The incident occurred Sunday morning at Mr. Tottens residence.
    The Raleigh County Sheriffs Office made an arrest Sunday after a man was murdered in Glen White.Joe Collins was arrested and is being charged with 1st degree murder for the shooting and killing of Larry Totten.The incident occurred Sunday morning at Mr. Tottens residence.
  • EnergyEnergyMore>>

  • UMWA endorses Tennant at annual Labor Day Celebration in Racine, WV

    UMWA endorses Tennant at annual Labor Day Celebration in Racine, WV

    Monday, September 1 2014 3:49 PM EDT2014-09-01 19:49:35 GMT
    United Mine Workers of America will feature food, entertainment and presentations by political and labor leaders at its 76th Annual Labor Day Celebration in Boone County on Sept. 1.
    United Mine Workers of America will feature food, entertainment and presentations by political and labor leaders at its 76th Annual Labor Day Celebration in Boone County on Sept. 1.
  • Feds want nuclear waste train, but nowhere to go

    Feds want nuclear waste train, but nowhere to go

    Monday, September 1 2014 12:11 PM EDT2014-09-01 16:11:52 GMT
    The tracks were supposed to lead to a depository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, where Congress intended to send radioactive fuel. Instead, the Obama administration cancelled a project that had been criticized as inadequate and opposed by many Nevadans.
    The tracks were supposed to lead to a depository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, where Congress intended to send radioactive fuel. Instead, the Obama administration cancelled a project that had been criticized as inadequate and opposed by many Nevadans.
  • WV workforce lacks oil and gas expertise — for now

    WV workforce lacks oil and gas expertise — for now

    Sunday, August 31 2014 5:00 PM EDT2014-08-31 21:00:19 GMT
    Despite the relatively high amount of natural gas production in West Virginia, less than 3 percent of employees in some of the major occupations that make up the sector's workforce live in the Mountain State.
    Despite the relatively high amount of natural gas production in West Virginia, less than 3 percent of employees in some of the major occupations that make up the sector's workforce live in the Mountain State.

An undergraduate in West Virginia University's Department of Physics and Astronomy has received a $1,000 grant to study geomagnetic storms.

Tessa Maynard, a junior at WVU, will work with research assistant professor Amy Keesee, as they explore the effect of geomagnetic and solar storms on the magnetosphere of Earth.

The largest solar storm on record, the 1859 "Carrington Event," went down in history as a beautiful display of nature where people could read that evening with the words illuminated only by the unusually bright night sky. It also knocked out communication wires worldwide.

But what was once dazzling could wreak havoc on an increasingly electric-reliant society, scientists say.

"If a storm like that happened today, depending on the orientation of the ejection it could do nothing, or it could be an absolute disaster," Maynard said.

When an ejection of electrons, ions and atoms from a solar storm hits the Earth's magnetosphere, it disrupts electronics on Earth and can ultimately release currents strong enough to knock out power grids, satellites and pipelines.

Their project will utilize data from the IMAGE mission launched by NASA in 2000, specifically from the Medium Energetic Neutral Atom (MENA) instrument. NASA terminated the mission after losing contact with the satellite in 2005, but scientists still have access to the data.

Through the study, Maynard and Keesee are analyzing the geomagnetic and solar storms and looking at the speed and temperature of ions within them.

"We can take in just a few particles with this instrument on this satellite that's orbiting around the planet, and we can learn so much about what's happening and how it affects us," Maynard said.