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Science for Alaska Lecture Series

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Bill Simpson's Science for Alaska lecture Jan. 29 at Raven Landing.
Photo by Kelly Eagan
GI Public Relations

Science for Alaska is one of the largest public outreach efforts undertaken each year by the Geophysical Institute.

Join us for this week's lecture, "Storms at the Edge of Space" by Marke Conde of the the GI's Space Physics and Aeronomy group at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, at Raven Landing, 1222 Cowles Street in Fairbanks.

For 27 years the series has brought current scientific research to Fairbanks and other communities throughout the state. Administrators, faculty, staff and the public weigh-in on possibilities for speakers and topics to be included in the popular lecture series. The result is a well-rounded event that pools expertise from scientists studying in various locales in Alaska, on topics as diverse as alternative energy to walruses.

Science for Alaska has grown tremendously since its inception in the early 1990s. Today, lectures are offered in Fairbanks and online, as well as on DVDs that are accessible through the Alaska library system.

In February 2009, communications satellite Iridium 33 collided at 26,000 mph with a defunct Soviet military spacecraft 500 miles above Siberia. The impact destroyed both and encircled the globe with debris. While a close encounter had been predicted, the risk of an actual collision was considered insignificant.

Calculating such risks is difficult, because satellites fly through the outer wisps of Earth's atmosphere and are buffeted unpredictably by its prevailing weather. At the edge of space, our atmosphere is unprotected from solar eruptions, especially at polar latitudes, where even the magnetic field offers little shelter. Space storms here are common, and Alaskans would recognize the sure indicator that one is in progress: a spectacular auroral display.

The Geophysical Institute is a world leader in studying these storms, using state of the art instruments distributed across Alaska. Dr. Conde will describe how we conduct these studies, what we have learned about these storms, and how they relate to the beautiful auroral displays that reveal them to us.

The lecture series continues on Tuesdays through March 5. A flier with details about all the lectures is downloadable below.

Click here for the Facebook event page.

Science for Alaska is sponsored by the Triplehorn family, Lifewater Engineering and Class 5 Boatworks, Alaska EPSCoR and the UAF Geophysical Institute.