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Radio and Space Science

Research in the Radio and Space Science Program at UCSD is extending the frontiers of knowledge in a wide spectrum of subjects, from the earth's ionosphere to interstellar space. The program currently has twelve members, including five teaching and seven research faculty.

Our current programs in theoretical Space Physics include such varied topics as ionospheric modification, cosmic dusty plasmas, the solar wind interaction with comets and asteroids, turbulent evolution of waves in space plasmas, the structure and properties of collisionless shocks in space, and the micro-physics and macroscopic consequences of magnetic reconnection. Our large number of affiliated faculty gives us considerable expertise in a broad variety of fields as well as solution methods. The latter range from closed form analytic solutions, to multi-dimensional computer simulation, to the use of neural networks. Supporting facilities and hardware include a local Sparc-based computer laboratory as well as time on the NSF San Diego Super Computer (located on campus).

We also have a strong Radio Science program that uses ground-based radio observations to study the ionosphere, the solar wind and the ionized interstellar medium. Perturbations, caused as radio waves propagate through these irregular and turbulent plasmas, and recorded and analyzed. On the one hand, the analysis can restore the unperturbed signal, and on the other hand the perturbations themselves provide a unique probe of regions inaccessible to direct spacecraft measurement. Our findings of a fast solar wind out-of-the-ecliptic are being dramatically confirmed by the Ulysses space probe. Our current observations are focused near the Sun, giving observations of the fascinating region where the solar wind is accelerated. Analogous studies of perturbations caused in interstellar space reveal an apparently turbulent plasma over 12 orders of magnitude in scale.

Affiliated Faculty

K. Quest



Emeritus Faculty

W. Coles


A. Mendis


B. Rickett


V. Shapiro