• Photo by Nicolas J Leclercq on Unsplash
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  • Photo by NASA on Unsplash
  • Photo by USGS on Unsplash

"The IGY and Me" Blogs

Rob Sternberg has started a blog entitled “The IGY and Me: Science, History, Culture, Philately and Memorabilia of the International Geophysical Year (1957-58).” It can be found at https://internationalgeophysicalyear.blogspot.com/

Posts are approximately weekly. You can subscribe and receive emails of the entries when they are posted. The themes are indicated in the blog’s subtitle, along with occasional thoughts about how they have intersected with Sternberg’s life and career over the years. 

IAGA was one of many scientific communities that provided official (via resolutions) and organizational support to the IGY in 1957-1958. 


Sternberg was born in1950, just a couple of months and a few miles from a historic soiree hosted by James and Abigail Van Allen in the Washington, D.C. area; with guests including Sydney Chapman and Lloyd Berkner, the idea for the IGY was conceived that evening. 

Rob’s childhood education was shaped by the fervor for science following the launch of Sputnik in 1957 as part of the IGY. He obtained his Ph.D. in geophysics at the University of Arizona. Sternberg was a geophysics professor at Franklin & Marshall College (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA) for over 30 years. 

For the last two decades he has been collecting books, philatelic items, and other items related to the IGY. He presented “The IGY and American Popular Culture” at the XXIV General Assembly of the IUGG, Perugia, Italy, July 2007, in a session on “The International Geophysical Year: A 50-yr Retrospective" (conveners Gregory A. Good and Ed Cliver). Sternberg can be contacted at rssternberg@gmail.com

Photos show Rob in second grade during the IGY and today.

IAGA Summer School 2021

The pandemic's plan to keep students and scientists from interacting and working together was a fail, because the first virtual IAGA Summer School 2021 was a success! 7 lecturers and 34 students were well managed and coordinated by the organisers. The interactions took place using various online platforms.

The first interaction started much before the summer school using Slack. Everybody was informed about the activities and lectures here. The platform was active till after two weeks of the end of the school, in case people wanted to interact or ask any questions regarding the topics discussed. 

A few days before the school, social interactions took place through Gather. All networking events as well as practical lessons during the school happened here. People could roam around in the different classrooms to work and discuss. The space was open 24/7 for whoever wanted to stay and chat.

All participants and lecturers came together from different time zones for the classes on Zoom. The lectures were on topics discussing the magnetism and modelling of the geomagnetic field and related phenomena. The organisers were always present in case of any technical or communication difficulties.

Finally, here are some testimonies from the participants themselves -

Shivangi Sharan, a PhD student working on the magnetic field of planets, says: The screens were our contact links as well as our barriers. The school was *almost* like a physical meet where everybody would come for the classes and eat together later. Just that some were eating their breakfast, some lunch and the rest dinner!

Sarasija Sanaka, another PhD student studying magnetotellurics, says : I felt very blessed to attend such an event. Lectures were organised very well and Gather is a very interactive platform. I didn't expect we all could interact so lively. It was my pleasure to take part in such an event. I heartfully thank the organisers for providing such an opportunity.

Hannah Rogers, a final year PhD student in geomagnetism, says : The summer school was an amazing way to meet other early career researchers from around the globe. Despite the challenges faced due to the global pandemic, it was an educational experience with many benefits from the excellent lecturers. I particularly enjoyed the chance to use jupyter notebooks to cement my understanding. Thanks so much to the organisers for all their hard work and to IAGA for facilitating this wonderful opportunity. I hope to take the knowledge gained with me into my future work in my PhD and beyond.  

All in all, the school went very smoothly, with its goal for imparting knowledge and interaction achieved.

K index digitization

K index is one of the oldest universal indices of geomagnetic activity that is still being widely used. The multidecadal practice of its application makes it an indispensable source of information for retrospective and historical analysis of solar‐terrestrial interaction for nearly eight Solar cycles. 

Example of range limits of K-index at different observatories. Credit : http://isgi.unistra.fr/what_are_kindices.php 

Most significantly, while studying the historical geomagnetic data, K index datasheets are in most cases more convenient for automated analysis than the analogue magnetograms. World Data Center for Solar‐Terrestrial Physics (Moscow, Russia) collected and digitized the results of the K index determination at 41 geomagnetic observatories of the former USSR for the period from July 1957 to early 1990s. 

This unique historical data collection is valuable for retrospective analysis and studying geomagnetic events in the past as well as for data validation or forecasting. This data collection is now available from the PANGEA data archive (https://doi.org/10.1594/PANGAEA.922233), and the relevant data paper has been published in the ESSD journal: N.Sergeyeva, A.Gvishiani, A.Soloviev, L.Zabarinskaya, T.Krylova, M.Nisilevich, and R.Krasnoperov (2021), Historical K index data collection of Soviet magnetic observatories, 1957–1992, ESSD, https://doi.org/10.5194/essd‐2020‐270.

Contributed by the Chair of the Interdivisional Commission on History, Dr. Anatoly Soloviev, from the Geophysical Center, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. The Commission encourages historical geophysical research and preservation of IAGA's history.

Planetary Magnetic Fields : Gas Giants

Ever wondered how the beautiful auroras we see are formed? You are right, it’s due to the energetic particles carried along with the solar wind from the sun, that enter the magnetic field shield, called the magnetosphere of the planet, interacts there and collects at the poles. Why at the poles? Because that’s how the field lines travel. But it doesn’t just happen on Earth. And it doesn’t just emit visible light spectrum, at least on the outer planets.

Interior models of the giant planets. Image : NASA/Lunar and Planetary Institute

The gas and ice giants of our Solar system - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - have extremely large magnetic fields and magnetospheres. Their interiors are unlike the interior of the terrestrial planets. They are mostly composed of gases and have a small solid core. Their magnetic fields are similar to that of Earth, i.e, dominantly dipolar, but the magnitudes are much larger than the terrestrial value. 

The interiors of Jupiter and Saturn consist of hydrogen and helium in different forms. Jupiter has the largest magnetic field in the Solar system that is assumed to be generated from the metallic hydrogen in its interior. The magnetosphere is so large that its tail almost reaches Saturn. The metallic hydrogen of Saturn is considered smaller in size comparatively and thus produces a lower magnetic field, but still much larger than Earth’s. The dipole magnetic field axis and the rotation axis almost align.

Magnetic field of the outer planets. Image : Stevenson 2018

The ice giants, Uranus and Neptune, have no metallic hydrogen but have molecular hydrogen and compounds like methane and ammonia in their interior. Uranus has an off-centered field. It rotates on its side due to its large tilt and its magnetic and rotation axes make a 59 degrees angle between them. The magnetic field and magnetosphere of Neptune is similar except that the planet is not as tilted.

Read about the magnetic fields of terrestrial planets here.

Shivangi Sharan is a second year PhD student at the Laboratory of Planetology and Geodynamics in France. Her research focusses on the study of the magnetic field of Mars and to infer its internal structure from it. She is an active member of the IAGA Blog Team and can be contacted via e-mail here.


2021 IAGA-IASPEI Conference

Attend the upcoming conference - http://www.iaga-iaspei-india2021.in/

As anyone working in science knows, conferences are a great way to understand what researchers in your field all over the world are currently working on and an even greater way to meet with them and interact professionally as well as personally.

IAGA holds General Assemblies every two years for scientists to come together and share their work to the community. The reports on IAGA activities are also shared in the meetings in order to take future decisions on the scientific, administrative and financial policies. Previous meetings have been held in different parts of the world like Italy, Canada and South Africa. This year, the meeting was supposed to take place in August in India but due to the pandemic, it will be held completely online. IAGA is conducting a joint assembly with IASPEI, which is the International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth’s Interior. 

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to attend and learn about the activities of the Magnetic and Seismic communities and register here!

There would be scientific sessions of the different IAGA Divisions and also joint sessions between them. All topics covered by the researchers working on different themes will be on display through poster and oral presentations. The programme also includes lectures from distinguished scientists in the field. Details for the sessions and lectures can be found in the links below.

Click here to see the scientific program by time and date so that you can choose the ones you are interested in! The business meetings to discuss about the progress and future work of the IAGA Divisions and Commissions can also be found in the link.

All information about the sessions can be found here.

All information about the lectures can be found here.

A Geoscience Information for Teachers (GIFT) Workshop will be conducted on the topic "Understanding the Changing Earth". Click here for the schedule and programme.

The previous meetings and workshops conducted by IAGA can be found here.

IAGA also conducts summer schools before its General Assemblies. Know about them from our previous blog here.

Digitization of Kosmos Missions

Geophysical Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences performed digitization of IZMIRAN catalogues containing historical data of magnetic satellite missions Kosmos49 (1964) and Kosmos321 (1970). 

External view of Kosmos-321 and Kosmos-356 from Krasnoperov et al. 2020.

Totally 17300 measured values are available for Kosmos49 mission, covering homogeneously 75% of the Earth's surface between 49° north and south latitude. About 5000 measured values are available for Kosmos321 mission, covering homogeneously 94% of the Earth's surface between 71° north and south latitude. 

The mission of Kosmos26 and Kosmos49 confirmed the possibility of using Earth’s magnetic field data for determination of spacecraft orientation. The obtained geomagnetic data justified the evidence of propagation of magnetic anomalies, associated with the structure and tectonics of the Earth’s crust, to the heights of low‐ orbiting satellites. 

In 2020, these results were presented to the scientific community in the ESSD data paper “Early Soviet satellite magnetic field measurements in the years 1964 and 1970” by Krasnoperov R., Peregoudov D., Lukianova R., Soloviev A., Dzeboev B. (https://doi.org/10.5194/essd‐12‐555‐2020). The value of the presented data is emphasized by the fact that older and publicly available global satellite data on the Earth's magnetic field in digital form for that period are rare and hard to acquire.

Contributed by the Chair of the Interdivisional Commission on History, Dr. Anatoly Soloviev, from the Geophysical Center, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow. The Commission encourages historical geophysical research and preservation of IAGA's history.

IAGA Schools

All about the upcoming IAGA School (Aug 2021) - http://iaga-iaspei-india2021.in/iaga-program.html

IAGA Schools are organised in the week before the IAGA Scientific Assemblies with the aim of providing some basic understanding of a variety of topics covered by IAGA to early career scientists. The sponsored participants include the recipients of the IAGA Young Scientist Awards, and a number of PhDs or Post-Docs who are selected from nominations by the IAGA Divisions and Working Groups. Geographical and gender diversity are additional criteria for the choice of students as well as scientific excellence. Lectures on a broad range of IAGA topics are given by distinguished international experts in the fields, with accompanying practical sessions. 

The schools are a great way for early researchers to socialise and interact with each other and other scientists who are working in the same field. Not to mention, a great opportunity to visit a new country and practically learn about cultural diversity.

First IAGA School participants and lecturers in Merida, Mexico (2013).

The first IAGA school was held in Merida, Mexico in August 2013 attended by 20 students of 14 nationalities from 11 countries. It covered a wide range of topics like paleomagnetism, electromagnetic induction and data inversions.

The second IAGA school was held in Prague, Czech Republic in June 2015 attended by 22 students of 13 nationalities from 14 countries. It covered almost all topics related to magnetic fields and magnetic field models.

The third IAGA school was held in Hermanus, South Africa in August 2017 hosted by SANSA Space Science and attended by 19 students from 15 countries. The students got hands-on experience handling large data and learning about the atmosphere and space.

The fourth IAGA school was held in Quebec, Canada in August 2019 attended by 20 students from 11 countries. Distinguished scientists shared their knowledge about the physics of planets and its interaction with the sun.

For the first virtual school, this map provides a context about the places where the students and lecturers reside at present. The green rings represent the participating students and the red circles represent the lecturers.

The fifth and upcoming IAGA school was to be held in Hyderabad, India but will now be conducted online from 16th to 20th August 2021. 30 participants from over 10 countries are already interacting with and learning about each other through different online platforms. They will attend lectures and practicals online through virtual rooms on magnetism and aeronomy. 

Though this time the school is online, the organisers are leaving no stones unturned so that the students can interact with and learn about each other as they would face-to-face. Even the lecturers are sparing no effort to make the first virtual school a success. 

And a special message from IAGA to the participants: 

We are looking forward not just to the great scientific exchanges but also to your introductory videos through which all of us can get to know each other in our virtual environment and deepen this when we will finally meet in-person. We hope you extend your network through the school and make new friends! 

And another one from the IAGA President: 

The 5th IAGA School is planned for August 16-20, just before the IAGA-IASPEI Joint Scientific Assembly. The IAGA Summer School Program offers an exciting set of courses with a modern edge in geomagnetism, electromagnetism, paleomagnetism and aeronomy. In these five-day long courses, introductory through advanced level, students will explore specific IAGA topics. 

An international team of professional lecturers will guide you via a journey from the Earth’s core to the magnetosphere. Through lectures and practicals, you will take advantage of the abundant topics our disciplines have to offer. Practical times will help you to develop new skills and refine your understanding of Earth’s magnetism. You will join a vibrant, diverse community of motivated students and distinguished faculty as you satisfy your intellectual curiosity, make new friends from around the world, and explore the many facets of the IAGA. Fill your mind with knowledge and your social networking time with memories. Work hard, play hard and enjoy the balance of achieving your academic goals while enjoying a fun, fulfilling experience with new friends at your side. Today in a virtual world, tomorrow in a face-to-face event, as closeness and face-to-face are two powerful communication and connection tools. 

Your brilliant future is ahead of you!

With my very best wishes,
IAGA President

Stay tuned for students sharing their experience of the first online IAGA school and know more about the upcoming 2021 IAGA-IASPEI conference in next month’s blog!

Shivangi Sharan is a second year PhD student at the Laboratory of Planetology and Geodynamics in France. Her research focusses on the study of the magnetic field of Mars and to infer its internal structure from it. She is an active member of the IAGA Blog Team and can be contacted via e-mail here.