Research Tracks

A publication of the Office of the Vice Provost for Research at Baylor University

Baylor undergraduate’s research provides a pilot’s perspective on space weather

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Jack Stanley, left, uses a flight simulator program in the Baylor Institute for Air Science lab while Dr. Trey Cade looks on.

Jack Stanley, a senior aviation major from Waco, was one of over 170 undergraduate students who presented results from their independent research projects during URSA Scholars Week, April 8-11.

Stanley’s research concerns space weather, the interaction that occurs when emissions from the sun come into contact with the earth’s magnetic field. ¬†These interactions can wreak havoc on satellite technologies, which Stanley says are especially critical to the aviation industry given the extent to which modern aircraft depend on satellite systems for navigation and traffic control.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Trey Cade, assistant research professor and director of the Baylor Institute for Air Science, Stanley is exploring the human impacts that could result from a breakdown in technology due to a space weather event.

While a great deal of research has explored the effects of space weather on systems ranging from communication to power transmission, Stanley says there has been comparatively less study on the effect of these potential breakdowns on pilots, air traffic controllers, military leaders and others who depend on these vulnerable technologies.

“We’re still in the early stages of the research,” says Stanley, who is already a licensed pilot and aspires to a career as a commercial astronaut. ¬†“We’ve learned how vulnerable some of our technology is, so now we need to interpret some of that information from a human perspective.”

Stanley has already presented his research at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, and the work will also be included in his upcoming honor’s thesis.

 

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