Summer Interns Star at NSSDC/SSDOO

By George Fleming

Again in 2000 SSDOO was the temporary home for a stellar group of interns from a large number of programs. And again as in 1999, one SSDOO intern was given an award for an outstanding presentation! Included below are the students’ own characterizations of their projects. Note that their school levels reflect their 2000-2001 school year.

LaTarsha L. Brandon, a senior in mathematics and statistics at Virginia State University, worked with Robert Candey on Extreme Value Analysis as related to geomagnetic storms. LaTarsha came as part of the Summer Institute in Engineering and Computer Applications (SIECA) program. She reports, "The theory of Extreme Value Statistics is used to observe extremes of a certain sample from past or present data in order to predict further dangerous phenomena. Extreme values were first used by hydrologists to predict massive floods so that future technology could prevent them. Similarly, and in this case, it can be applied to Space Physics to study geomagnetic storms. Our study consisted mostly of graphical methods that have shown to be very useful tools for exploratory extremal data analysis. Given the data from the geomagnetic indices, the XTREMES software program produced graphs to be analyzed for a specific pattern that indicates the occurrence of a geomagnetic storm."

Summer student interns pursue their projects.

Tom Narock, a senior in astronomy at the University of Maryland, was part of this year’s Radio JOVE project. Working with Tom this year was Albie Davison; their mentor was James Thieman. Albie was in the Radio JOVE project last year and currently works part-time for Raytheon at SSDOO. Tom relates, "The Radio JOVE project is an education and outreach project focused on radio emissions from Jupiter and the Sun. The project allows participants to build their own radio antennas and receivers and to observe and analyze data at a frequency of 20.1 MHz. This summer I had the pleasure to be a part of this project. The summer was spent between education and outreach and data analysis. The first part of the job was to familiarize myself with the radio emission processes of Jupiter and the Sun. Once I had a comfortable understanding of the emission processes, we began putting together education materials for students. The main goal was to provide activities that helped students understand their equipment and how to analyze their data. One of the main advantages of this project was that we had the opportunity to build our own radio antenna and observe regularly. We observed three to four times a week and recorded multiple solar bursts. The data analysis aspect involved analyzing Voyager and Galileo data to better understand the physics of the emission process from Jupiter and to better predict future storms."

Van Hong Nguyen, a graduate student in statistics at the University of New Mexico, came to SSDOO as part of the SIECA program; Van’s mentor was Cynthia Cheung. As Van’s abstract states, "The Astronomical Data Center (ADC) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center distributes collections of data that have been published by professional astronomers. All of these data sets are multivariate data that consist of a number of measurements (variables) recorded for each of the astronomical objects in the study. Multivariate analysis is a large suite of methods and algorithms for understanding the structure of such databases. Histograms, for example, could be used to look at the distribution of values on each variable, and simple scatterplots used to obtain a number of two-dimensional views of the data. A more complex multivariate method is clustering analysis, which looks for distinct groupings in multidimensional parameter space. Some statistical functionality from the Data Viewer has been analyzed by using Catseye, a tool for plotting column data from ASCII tables."

Nichole O’Connell, a senior at the University of Rhode Island majoring in physics, arrived at SSDOO as part of Achieving Competency in Computing, Engineering, and Space Science or ACCESS. Nichole’s mentor was Ramona Kessel. Nichole’s presentation states that "[t]he examination of data from various satellites has revealed a correlation between ultra low frequency (ULF) waves inside and outside the Earth’s magnetosphere. The bow shock (sic)is a standing shock wave formed upstream of the Earth’s magnetosphere, owing to interactions with the supersonic solar wind. The region between the bowshock (sic)and the Earth’s magnetic field is called the magnetosheath and is characterized as an extremely turbulent area. Because so much is going on in this region, the ULF signal cannot be tracked through it. Therefore, we use data from the Geotail satellite to detect these waves upstream from the bow shock and the geosynchronous satellite GOES, to detect them within Earth’s magnetosphere. My contribution to this study has been centered on analysis of Geotail data. I retrieved 3-sec magnetic field data from a WWW database in Japan. Using the Interactive Data Language (IDL), I converted this data to Common Data Format (CDF). Also using IDL, I calculated the cone angle. This data was loaded on to the Coordinated Data Analysis Web (CDAWeb) for easier access. Finally, using Fast Fourier Transformations, I determined the power spectrum of Geotail 3-second data. Comparisons of Geotail and GOES power spectra confirm the similarity of ULF waves at times of high-speed streams and small cone angles."

Thomas Smith (left) and William Pine (right), teacher interns,
developed middle school and high school physics curriculum
materials for the IMAGE, Radio JOVE, and INSPIRE projects.

James Thieman, Brian Schmidt’s mentor, writes, "Brian is now a second year graduate student at James Madison University in Virginia. During his summer 2000 tenure at GSFC as a Student Internship Program (SIP) student, Brian developed an archive interface for the Radio JOVE project. Radio JOVE is an education and outreach project in which schools build radio astronomy receivers and antennas which enable them to receive and record radio emissions from Jupiter and the Sun. As a part of the project, the schools are asked to submit copies of their data log files to the archive when they successfully receive data. They are also asked to send sound files and/or images of the chart recordings of their data. Brian developed a format for submitting information about these files and a search mechanism for schools to use on the database of file information in order to retrieve entries for a particular date, time, target, etc. The schools could then obtain these files in order to compare them to their own data. Brian had not completely finished the project at the end of the summer, but hopes to finish it at the beginning of this school year."

Paul Thompson, a graduate student in computer science at James Madison University, arrived here courtesy of the EEO Summer Internship Program. Shing Fung was Paul’s mentor. Paul’s abstract states, "The CRRES satellite was launched in July 1990 into a highly elliptical orbit around Earth. Along with other instruments, it carried a magnetic focusing electron spectrometer, identified by ‘Medium Electrons A’ (MEA). The MEA collected electrons into bins of various energies. Also recorded was a host of other parameters, including the angle of the magnetometer with respect to the local magnetic field. The volume of data collected is huge, with a record every .512 second continuing for over a year, covering 11 CDs. It has been suggested elsewhere that the distribution of electron fluxes trapped in the Earth’s radiation belts fits the equation F = sinNa where a is the angle between the particle velocity and the magnetic field. The goal of this project was to write a program to go through the CRRES data and determine the parameter N by fitting a one-minute set of data to the given equation. This goal was accomplished."

SSDOO was delighted with all of the final reports, but special mention must be made of Paul’s. Paul received a special presentation award, the Rashaan Jackson Presentation Award, for his efforts this year! Congratulations for a job well done!

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Author: Miranda Beall
Curator: Natalie Barnes
Responsible Official: Dr. Joseph H. King, Code 633
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