A Georgia State University research team was recently awarded a $500,000 grant from NASA. The two-year grant’s principal investigator is Petrus Martens, a professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. Joining Dr. Martens on the grant are two computer science faculty members, Berkay Aydin and Dustin Kempton, who will serve as Science Co-PI and Co-I, respectively. Both are research assistant professors in the Department of Computer Science and members of Georgia State’s Data Mining Lab. Led by Dr. Martens, the team will develop and enhance a near real-time forecasting tool for predicting solar proton events (SPEs).
The goal of NASA’s Artemis Program is to return astronauts to the Moon, where they will establish a surface camp that will eventually support crewed missions to Mars. The Georgia State team is creating a system that will warn of and evaluate potential risks to Artemis’ human space flight operations, specifically watching for SPEs, which greatly increase the risk of radiation-related health problems. However, SPEs occur episodically and exhibit high variability in terms of intensity, duration, composition, and energy spectra, making them one of the most difficult space weather events to predict.
The GSU team is currently working on building data-driven operational forecasting tools for both solar-source and heliospheric SPE predictions. To produce these cascaded early warning systems, the team will collect, homogenize, and analyze input data from multiple heterogeneous data sources. This historical data will need to be cleaned and validated before it can be used to train machine learning-based models, which will then be deployed to a publicly accessible system. To deploy such models and produce effective SPE warnings, the team will be developing event-driven data-processing pipelines, which will further enhance the capabilities of forecasting systems.
As PI, Dr. Martens will oversee the entire project and provide solar physics expertise. Dr. Aydin will be responsible for the data science portions of the project, such as coordinating the training of the models. Dr. Aydin was awarded a similar grant last year by the National Science Foundation to construct a system that can detect and analyze magnetic polarity inversion lines, another type of space weather event. Dr. Kempton will lead the data-processing efforts, supervise the validation of the sourced data, and develop the necessary data-processing pipelines for the operational system. This is Dr. Kempton’s first research grant award.
Story by Ashlie Swanson