J. Space Weather Space Clim.
Volume 13, 2023
|Number of page(s)
|24 May 2023
Agora – Education and public outreach
Student-led design, development and tests of an autonomous, low-cost platform for distributed space weather observations
The University of Texas at Dallas, William B. Hanson Center for Space Sciences, Richardson, TX 75080, USA
* Corresponding author: email@example.com
Accepted: 12 April 2023
Distributed arrays of ground-based instruments can help advance observations and improve understanding of space weather. The implementation of an array of sensors can be constrained, however, by the high cost of commercial instruments and the availability of Internet and power. Additionally, distributed observations require sensors that can be easily deployed and maintained. As part of an effort to expand the breath of skills of physics students while increasing literacy about space weather, a team of undergraduates was formed and tasked with designing, building, and testing an autonomous platform for ionospheric observations using ScintPi 3.0. ScintPi 3.0 is a low-cost ionospheric scintillation and total electron content (TEC) monitor. The design led to a platform that employs cellular-based Internet connectivity as well as solar and battery power. A fully functional prototype was built and deployed near Dallas, USA (32.9° N, 96.4° W). Results show that the platform can run for 232 hours using battery only or indefinitely when connected to the selected solar photovoltaic panel. For system monitoring, LTE functionality enables near real-time updates of the systems’ health and remote shell access. Examples of observations made by the prototype are presented, including the detection of ionospheric effects caused by a space weather event. Additionally, the potential of the system for research, education, and citizen science initiatives are discussed.
Key words: Education / Scintillation / Ionosphere / Sensors / TEC / Autonomous
© I.G. Wright et al., Published by EDP Sciences 2023
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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