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Mission | History | Leadership | 

Dr. Dennis Gallagher
Space Plasma Physics Advisor

Dr. Dennis L. Gallagher received his Doctorate and Masters Degrees in Physics from the University of Iowa in 1982 and 1978, respectively, and Bachelors Degree in Physics from Iowa State University in 1974. He worked for two years at the University of Alabama in Huntsville in the Physics Department and subsequently has worked for NASA Marshall Space Flight Center since 1984, doing research in space plasma physics.  As a graduate student he resolve controversy about the source location of Auroral Kilometric Radiation (AKR) using the Hawkeye 1 and IMP 6 spacecraft wave instruments, studied the phenomenological relationship between solar wind properties and the intensity of AKR, studied short wave burst packets in the foreshock of the Jovian magnetosphere and dust in the Saturn ring play using the Voyager 1  and 2 wave instruments, studied chorus waves in the terrestrial magnetosphere and what he concluded were ion acoustic waves in the terrestrial dayside magnetosheath using the ISEE 1 spacecraft wave instrument.  Also during this time he supported the processing and archival of IMP 8 wave data at the National Space Science Data Center at NASA/GSFC.

In Huntsville, Alabama Dr. Gallagher’s work shifted to include the study of thermal plasma in the terrestrial magnetosphere.  Early studies included use of the Dynamics Explorer 1 Retarding Ion Mass Spectrometer and Plasma Wave Instruments for the study of ion composition and flows in the high altitude polar cap and for the study of fast and slow mode Alfven wave propagation from the dayside magnetosheath inward toward the ionosphere.  For the last twenty years he has been involved with the statistical characterization and modeling of low energy, thermal plasma in magnetosphere.  He leads the development of empirical and dynamic global models of plasmaspheric plasmas.  The Global Core Plasma Model (GCPM) is the first empirical, thermal plasma model to provide typical thermal plasma densities on a global scale and has been used world-wide for wave propagation and many other studies of the inner Magnetospheric environment.  While working as advisor with Dr. Ober during his graduate studies they developed the Dynamic GCPM (DGCPM) model that is a phenomenological-based numerical model of the dynamics of thermal plasma behavior.  The DGCPM is designed to be used inside ring current, radiation belt, and other models that depend on knowledge of thermal plasma densities and composition.  Both models have been made available to the research community and are widely used.

Dr. Gallagher was the study scientist for the Inner Magnetosphere Imager Mission concept that was realized in the first selected MIDEX Explorer mission, IMAGE, for which he was a Co-Investigator. He supported IMAGE mission planning and instrument requirements definition for the Extreme Ultraviolet imager and the Radio Plasma Imager instruments and has participated and led numerous studies of the measurements obtained by this first-ever magnetospheric imaging mission. He continues to be involved in the development of thermal plasma modeling and the study of IMAGE Mission observations. Through the years at NASA Dr. Gallagher has led and supported a diverse variety of studies including examination of the feasibility of using electrodynamic tethers at Jupiter for orbital capture and maneuvering, for the viability of the concept of plasma propulsion, for measuring the spin of individual dust grains suspended in an electrodynamic trap in the Dusty Plasma Laboratory at MSFC, and for deriving the electrostatic charging properties of radioactive dust as it decays and fissions in support of developing a fission-fragment in-space rocket engine.

For almost a year starting in late 2011 Dr. Gallagher supported the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters that included a 6-month detail to Washington, DC. During this time he was served as Interim Program Scientist for the Solar Terrestrial Probe Program and for the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission.  He performed an evaluation of the structure of the Heliophysics Division Research and Analysis Program structure, recommending a new approach to restructuring the Program. During this time he also managed and supported numerous proposal review panels.

From 2006 to 2011 Dr. Gallagher served as Deputy and Acting Manager for the Space Science Office at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. Researchers in the office of about 30 civil servants, and as many local contracting associates, performed research in Heliophysics, Planetary Sciences, Space Weather, and Astrophysics. He has returned to primarily scientific research following serving as manager of the Heliophysics and Planetary Science Office from 2011 to 2013.
 


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