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About Us

teamUSTAR Space Weather Center Team

About the USU Space Weather Center

The Utah State University (USU) Space Weather Center is an initiative by the State of Utah USTAR program to help create a vibrant economy in Utah related to space weather. Located on the USU campus in Logan, Utah, the Center is developing innovative applications for mitigating space weather in technical systems. The ionosphere is a key region that affects communication and navigation systems of the space environments that are affected by space weather. The USTAR initiative is developing products to reduce adverse effects of the ionosphere on these types of systems. Please visit our site as we grow!

For further information, please contact Robert W. Schunk, Center for Atmospheric and Space Sciences, Utah State University, 4405 Old Main Hill, Logan, UT 84322-4405; 435-797-2962 phone; 435-797-2992 fax;

The Space Weather Center at USU is committed to developing and providing real-time, operational products for customers that will help them mitigate adverse space weather effects on communication and navigation systems. For example, two broad areas of product development are in radio communications and in navigation.

proposal-teamUSTAR Space Weather Center Proposal Team

Radio Communications

Our goal is to prevent loss of radio communications for military, first responder, commercial aviation, amateur radio users. When large solar flares and coronal mass ejections cause major disruptions to the Earth's ionosphere this can result in communication outages that last from minutes to days. Our products are being developed to provide an operational, real-time and forecast capability across multiple platforms to warn of communication outages and enable automated systems to select optimal transmit/receive frequencies.


Our goal is to improve precision and accuracy of GPS-based location knowledge. When large solar flares and coronal mass ejections cause major disruptions to the Earth's ionosphere this can result in large GPS uncertainties of up to 100 meters or more over just a few minutes. Our products are being developed to provide operational, real-time and forecast capabilities across multiple platforms to warn of navigation error and enable automated systems to obtain highly accurate and precision position information.


kentDr. W. Kent Tobiska

Dr. W. Kent Tobiska joined the SWC team as its Director. He comes from Space Environment Technologies where he is the President and Chief Scientist of its Space Weather Division. 

Dr. Tobiska's long-term research focus has been the analysis of solar XUV to FUV data that has led to the creation of an internationally distributed hybrid solar irradiance platform (SIP). He invented to world's first operational computer code for solar irradiance forecast while serving as a senior scientist at Northrop Gumman/Logicon. At SET, he extended this expertise into operational space wether systems as PI on the SET solar operational system, the NOAA/SWPC solar irradiance CRADA, theAF SBIR for an operational ionosphere forecast system and an operational U.S. Dst, and the communication alert and prediction system (CAPS).

Through his career at NOAA Space Environment Laboratory, UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Northrop Grumman, SET, and UCSW, he has been a USAF and a NASA LWS, SOHO, JSDAP, and UARS Principal Investigator (PI),  a Co-INvestigator (Co-I) on NASA TIMED, Galileo, and ESA component of the International Space Station (ISS) SOL-ACES instruments.

Dr. Tobiska was the co-chair of the 1993 IAU Colloquium #143 "Sun as a variable star," was a panel chair for the ICSU/SCOSTEP International Solar Cycle Study Working Group 1.2 "Variations in FUV/EUV/XUV/Energetic Particle fluxes," is the COSPAR C1 Sub-Commission (Thermosphere & Ionosphere) Chair, the COSPAR International Reference Atmosphere (CIRA) Task Force Vice-Chair, and is a Session Organizer for 2002, 2004, 2006, 2006, 2008, 2010 COSPAR scientific sessions. He serves as lead U.S. delegate to ISO for the space environment and developed the ISO solar irradiance standard; he is the AIAA Atmospheric and Space Environment Technical Committee (ASETC) Committee (ASETC) Committee on Standards (CoS) chair. He has authored/co-authored over 80 peer-review scientific papers as well as eight books and major technical publications. Dr. Tobiska is a member of American Geophysical Union, Committee On Space Research, American Meteorological Society, and an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics.

Chief Scientist and Director of Strategic Development

herbertDr. Herbert C. Carlson

Dr. Herbert C. Carlson joined the USTAR Space Weather Center from at the European Office of Aerospace Research and Development, EOARD, London UK, where as Senior Scientist he engaged leading European research groups with US researchers across the research spectrum of the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Carlson’s previous post was as a member of the scientific and professional cadre of senior executives, as chief scientist, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Arlington, VA.  As chief scientist, he was the principal science and technology adviser to the director in matters of formulation, planning, managing and integration of all Air Force basic research programs. With a staff of 142 scientists, engineers and administrative personnel, and a $400 million budget, the AFOSR maintains the technological superiority of the U.S. Air Force. This office selects, sponsors and manages research relevant to Air Force needs in science and technology, and is the single manager for the entire Air Force basic research program. The AFOSR reports to the Air Force Research Laboratory with headquarters at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

He previously served as director of the Ionospheric research department at the Arecibo Ionospheric Observatory; as a program director at the National Science Foundation, and as deputy division director and chief scientist for the Air Force Geophysics Laboratory that is now part of the Air Force Research Laboratory. He created a new national program office, the Upper Atmospheric Research Facilities, while at the NSF and initiated several national and international research programs while at the Air Force Geophysics Laboratory. He has served on and chaired scientific advisory boards and long-range planning committees for industry, academia, and government (Air Force, Department of Defense, NSF, NASA, other US federal agencies, and U.S. Academy of Sciences).  He has had research awards from NSF, NASA, the USAF and DNA.

His international recognition for research in upper atmospheric and space sciences builds on over 130 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters, being cited in more than 2,000 reviewed publications, and having lectured regularly at international symposia. He is an elected member of the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters, and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in London and Air Force Research Laboratory. He has served as an adjunct professor and thesis adviser to 15 doctoral students at universities in the United States, France, Norway and Sweden, and is listed in Marquis Who’s Who in the World. He was selected for the Presidential Rank Award in 2003, the first year STs became eligible for this award.


Senior Software Engineer


Eric Hunsaker


Graduate Researchers


David Hansen


Jinni Meehan


Technical Editor/Coordinator of Programs


Jared Fulgham


Who We Are

Our team is comprised of world-class experts in ionospheric physics, solar irradiance forecasting, data assimilation, space weather operations. Senior members include:

  • W. Kent Tobiska (Director)
  • Herbert C. Carlson (Director of Strategic Development)

Along with senior USU Faculty:

  • Robert W. Schunk
  • Jan J. Sojka
  • Donald C. Thompson
  • Larry Gardner
  • Lie Zhu
  • Ludger Scherliess