LASP’s Laila Andersson named to prominent National Academies committee


LASP’s Laila Andersson named to prominent National Academies committee

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Laila Andersson, a research scientist at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder, has been named to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on Solar and Space Physics (CSSP). This prominent committee supports scientific progress in solar and space physics (heliophysics) by providing advice to the federal government on the implementation of decadal survey recommendations.

“The Committee on Solar and Space Physics is a crucial committee for advancing the field of heliophysics,” said LASP Director Dan Baker. “Laila’s appointment is a reflection of the importance of her research, the value of her expertise in space physics, and her leadership within the community. We believe she will make an important contribution to space policy deliberations.”

Andersson’s research expertise is in space plasma, ionosphere and thermosphere dynamics of Earth and Mars, electric and magnetic fields, and the aurora.

“I am honored to be nominated and selected to represent my field for this important committee role,” Andersson said.

In 2022, Andersson was named principal investigator of the AETHER instrument, the Atmospheric Electrodynamics probe for THERmal plasma, which has been selected to fly on NASA’s next “Living With a Star” mission to study Earth’s upper atmosphere. AETHER will measure electron density and temperature from a constellation of Earth-orbiting satellites as part of NASA’s Geospace Dynamics Constellation (GDC) mission.

The spacecraft constellation will make the first global measurements of the coupling between the magnetosphere and the Earth’s upper atmosphere. The results will help detect and predict extreme conditions in space that can impact society and future exploration.

Prior to that, Andersson was a co-investigator of the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS), serving as part of the InterDisciplinary Science team (IDS) led by CU researchers to support the mission and the payload before launch and analyze the data after launch.

She was also co-investigator for the Global-scale Observations of the Limb and Disk (GOLD) mission, which provides unprecedented imaging of Earth’s upper atmosphere from geostationary orbit to study the weather of the thermosphere-ionosphere. GOLD made breakthrough measurements of temperature and composition that are important for satellite drag and ionospheric disruptions of communication and navigation.

Andersson was also co-investigator for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) mission, which included serving as the Langmuir Probes and Waves instrument scientist.

Andersson was the recipient of a 2016 NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, awarded for “exceptional contributions to MAVEN’s science return using the Langmuir Probe and Waves instrument.”

Prior to joining LASP in 2000 as a postdoctoral researcher in the Space Plasma Research Group, Andersson was at the Swedish Institute of Space Physics in Kiruna. Andersson earned her doctorate in space physics from the University of Umea, Sweden.

-Written by Sara Pratt, LASP Senior Communications Specialist

Founded a decade before NASA, the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder is on a mission to transform human understanding of the cosmos by pioneering new technologies and approaches to space science. LASP is the only academic research institute in the world to have sent instruments to every planet in our solar system. LASP began celebrating its 75th anniversary in April 2023.


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