Project CUSP

Earth’s magnetosphere to scale showing the cusps extending down to the polar regions.

The GCI Cusp Project is designed to advance the common understanding of cusp region space physics through coordinated experimental and theoretical research using ground based instruments, modeling, sounding rocket investigations, and satellite based instruments.

Project CUSP aims to determine the multi-scale physics of heating and charged particle precipitation in the ionosphere specific to the geomagnetic cusp region.

International student participation through space plasma model development and a dedicated student rocket (G-CHASER) is an essential aspect of the GCI concept.

The formulation (and topic) of this initial GCI project followed the recognition of the tremendous increase in scientific return available from coordination of these independently initiated missions.

Additional sounding rocket missions from these agencies as well as other national agencies are under consideration to complement the current project and expand further the scale of international collaboration.

Missions (updated Dec. 2nd 2021)

  • AZURE (2X BB XI) – Andøya, Norway, Apr 2019)
    Larsen, 51.001 & 51.002
  • TRICE-2 (2x BB XII – Andøya, Norway, Dec 2018)
    Kletzing, 52.003/004
    NASA mission manager:
    Twin Rockets to Investigate Cusp Electrodynamics-2
    PI: Craig Kletzing, USA / Univ. of Iowa
  • VISIONS-2 (2x BB X – Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, Dec 2018)
    Rowland, 35.039/040
    NASA mission manager:
    VISualizing Ion Outflow via Neutral atom Sensing–2
    PI: Douglas Rowland, USA / NASA Goddard
  • CAPER-2 (BB XII – Andøya, Norway, Jan 2019) Cusp Alfven and Plasma Electrodynamics Rocket-2
    PI: James LaBelle, USA / Dartmouth College
  • G-CHASER (Andøya, Norway, Jan 2019)
    Grand Challenge Student Rocket (International collaboration)
    Koehler, 46.018
    NASA mission manager:
    PI: Chris Koehler, Colorado Space Grant Consortium
    Coordinator: Kolbjørn Blix, Andøya Space Center
  • ICI-5 (Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, Nov/Dec 2019)
    3D in-situ observations of ionospheric irregularities in the cusp
    PI: Jøran Moen, Norway / UiO
  • CHI(BB IX – Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, Nov/Dec 2019)
    Cusp Heating Investigation
    PI: Miguel Larsen, Clemson University, USA
  • JAXA SS-520 (Ny-Ålesund, Svalbard, Launched Nov 4th, 2021 ) Ion outflow in the cusp
    PI: Yoshifumi Saito, Japan / JAXA
  • C-REX-2 (BB XII – Andøya, Norway, launched Dec 1st, 2021)
    Cusp-Region Experiment 2
    PI: Mark Conde, USA / University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF)

Points of Contact
For more information on this research initiative, please contact anyone of the individuals listed below