Donald A. Gurnett

The University of Iowa


Election Year: 1998
Primary Section: 16, Geophysics
Membership Type: Member

Research Interests

My career in space research started in 1958 as a student employee in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa shortly after the launch of Explorer 1. This work eventually led to some of the early spacecraft measurements of very-low-frequency radio waves (now sometimes called plasma waves) in the Earth's radiation belts. Since then I have carried out studies of radio emissions and plasma waves on more than 25 NASA spacecraft projects, including, for example, the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 flights to the outer planets, the Galileo mission to Jupiter, and the Cassini mission to Saturn. These studies have two broad objectives: first, to understand how the waves are generated by the very energetic charged particle distributions (plasmas) found in the radiation belts of the magnetized planets, and second, to understand how the waves influence the energy and velocity distribution of the charged particles via various processes generally known as wave-particle interactions. Many of these same processes are also relevant to laboratory plasmas, but are easier to study in space plasmas because of various scale factor considerations.

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