Magnetosphere-Ionosphere-Thermosphere Modeling and Validation at the CCMC
With the Geospace Dynamics Constellation (GDC) Mission gearing up, the Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) is working to expand support of magnetospheric driver coupling to ionosphere-thermosphere-mesosphere (ITM) models, as well as to validate existing ITM models for operational use. I will discuss CCMC efforts to allow users to study effects of magnetospheric drivers on the ITM system. Magnetospheric driving of the thermosphere had a major impact with the recent loss of multiple Starlink satellites, underlining the importance of transitioning more of our state-of-the-art thermosphere models to implementation in orbital operations. This path is difficult to navigate and has historically been available to only a few models. As a result, there is a need for a proving ground for thermospheric models and a validation environment that can assess model strengths and weaknesses on an even playing field. Neutral density validation is being carried out through a collaboration between CCMC, SWxTREC at CU Boulder, and the GEODYN-II developers at NASA GSFC. This collaboration has enabled run capabilities for the GEODYN orbit propagator on the CCMC’s AWS environment. This version of GEODYN has the capability to utilize output from both empirical and physics-based thermosphere models supported by CCMC. This presentation will show an initial assessment of empirical and physics-based thermospheric models using ICESat-2 precise orbit determination. This validation technique allows us to assess the accuracy of both empirical and physics-based specifications of neutral densities specifically as they relate to operational goals of predicting neutral drag effects on satellites. These capabilities also set the stage for use of CCMC-hosted neutral density models in planning future heliophysics missions to LEO.
Katherine Garcia-Sage got her start in Heliophysics as an undergraduate at Rice University, followed by a PhD from Boston University, working on ionospheric escape in the Multi-Fluid-Lyon-Fedder-Mobarry model. In 2012, she moved to NASA Goddard as a postdoctoral fellow and has stayed at Goddard ever since. She is currently a Magnetosphere-Ionosphere-Thermosphere subject matter expert at the Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) and is a Deputy Project Scientist for the GDC mission. Her research interests involve a wide range of high-latitude Magnetosphere-Ionosphere-Thermosphere interactions at Earth, Jupiter, and beyond.