Amelia Earhart Fellow 2012

Madeleine Holmberg, a doctoral student in space and plasma physics at the Institute of Space Physics (IRF) in Uppsala and Department of Physics and Astronomy at Uppsala University.


My research investigates the plasma around Saturn and its rings.
A plasma is an ionized gas consisting of ions and electrons, and it is the material of which the space between our planets is composed.  The Institute of Space Physics, where I am conducting my doctoratal studies, has an instrument on the satellite Cassini, currently orbiting Saturn. This instrument, a Langmuir probe, can be used to measure plasma density, temperature and speed. This information may give us clues about the role of plasma in many different processes, such as how, together with the planet's magnetic field, it interacts with grains of dust to make the grains stick together and form larger clumps of matter. Saturn with its rings has similar characteristics to the disk of matter that exists around new stars, the disk from which the planets are then formed. Hopefully our research will enable us to learn more about how planets actually come into existence. In order to achieve this, we have to understand our data precisely, which requires a great deal of data analysis. We have to compare our measurements with models and use the theory to draw conclusions about what the measurements show. An important aspect is about electric charging of spacecraft, a factor that affects the satellite's electronics, degrades solar panels and other satellite surfaces, and causes errors in measurement and control services. My student thesis from the Master of Science Program in Engineering Physics at Uppsala University, was precisely about determining the degree of electric charge of the Langmuir probe and the Cassini satellite, caused by radiation from the sun (Determination of Solar EUV Intensity and Ion Flux from Langmuir Probe Current Characteristics).

The scholarship

In order to expand my professional network and to benefit from scientific work in other research groups, I will use my Amelia Earhart Fellowship for an exchange at a foreign university. I am convinced that this can be a valuable experience that will assist me in my future research career. Besides my interest in space, I like to travel and have made long journeys in Asia, Europe, Africa and North America. In addition, I enjoy outdoor life, preferably walking, cycling or scuba diving.
- M. W. Morooka, J.-E. Wahlund, A.I. Eriksson, W.M. Farrell, D.A. Gurnett, W.S. Kurth, A.M. Persoon, M. Shaq, M. André, M.K.G. Holmberg, Dusty plasma in the vicinity of Enceladus, 2011, Journal of Geophysical Research, 116, A12221.

- P. Garnier,  J.-E. Wahlund, M.K.G. Holmberg, M.W. Morooka, S. Grimald, A.Eriksson, P. Schippers, D. Gurnett, S. Krimigis, N. Krupp, A. Coates, F. Crary, G.Gustafsson, The Detection of Energetic electrons with The Cassini Langmuir probe at Saturn, Journal of Geophysical Research, submitted for publication.

- E. Roussos, P. Kollmann, N. Krupp, C. Para Formica, S.M. Krimigis, D.G. Mitchell, A.M. Persoon, D.A. Gurnett, W.S. Kurth, H. Kriegel, S. Simon, K. Khurana, G.H. Jones, J.-E. Wahlund, M.K.G Holmberg, Energetic electron observations of Rhea's Magnetospheric Interaction, Icarus, submitted for publication.

- M.K.G. Holmberg, J.-E.Wahlund, M.W. Morooka, Ion Densities and Velocities in the Inner Plasma Torus of Saturn, Planetary and Space Science Journal, submitted for publication.

- S.-T. Sakai, A.Watanabe, M.W. Morooka, J.-E. Wahlund, M.K.G. Holmberg, D.A. Gurnett, W.S. Kurth, Dust-plasma interaction through magnetosphereionosphere coupling in Saturn's plasma disk, Planetary and Space Science Journal, submitted for publication.

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