Anchor University, Lagos established the Space, Atmospheric physics and Radio wave propagation Laboratory in July 2018, in the Department of Physics, Faculty of Science and Science Education (FSSE).
Among other research areas, the Laboratory exploits the propagation characteristic of low frequency (VLF) Radio waves to study atmospheric and ionospheric irregularities. Our newly installed VLF Radio wave receiver records the time-variant amplitude signal from up to four (4) transmitters across the globe (HWU-Germany, JJI-Japan, NWC-Australia and VTX-India). The data from this ground based instrument can be utilized to investigate the diurnal and seasonal changes in the atmosphere, atmospheric-lithospheric connection and solar-induced perturbations in the atmosphere and ionosphere (among others).
The velocity, direction and amplitude of most electromagnetic waves are distinctly affected when propagating through the ionosphere. The amplitude and phase of very low frequency (VLF) radio waves in the 3–30 kHz are sensitive to changes in electrical conductivity of the lower ionosphere. VLF radio signals are reflected alternately by the D region and the Earth's surface due to high conductivity. The transmitted wave is thus guided between the Earth and the ionosphere enabling the signal to propagate globally through the Earth–ionosphere waveguide.
Space weather refers to the dynamic, variable conditions in the coupled space environment, including conditions on the sun and terrestrial atmosphere, that can influence the performance & reliability of space-borne & ground-based technological systems, and endanger human well being. The effects of space weather can (i) heat and expand the atmosphere and increase atmospheric drag on satellites in orbit (ii) drive intense currents in the magnetosphere and ionosphere (iii) modify thermospheric and ionospheric parameters such as atmospheric density distribution, total electron content (TEC), ionization rates, conductivity gradient and reference height of the ionosphere (iv) modify the paths of radio signal (v) reduces maximum reflection frequency of ionospheric radio communication leading to loss of transmitted signal (vi) increases radio wave absorption and causes disappearance of radio signal in MF/HF (vii) cause the absence of communication capability in HF radio band known as Radio ‘blackouts’ (viii) hamper the precision of GPS measurement such that navigation and timing systems are affected (ix) degradation of satellite’s sensor, solar array and critical components (x) produce ionised radiation that can effect astronauts, pilots, aircraft passengers and crew.
DO WE NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THE IMPACT OF SPACE WEATHER? HOW CAN WE MITIGATE THE IMPACT OF SPACE WEATHER? ALL THE ANSWERS ARE EMBEDDED IN OUR SPACE AND ATMOSPHERIC PHYSICS RESEARCH THEMES. COME WITH US TO EXPLORE THE DYNAMICS OF GOD’S BEAUTIFUL UNIVERSE, HE IS STILL IN CONTROL!