Wolfram Computation Meets Knowledge

Wolfram Summer School


Sapna Shekhar

Summer School

Class of 2015


Sapna Shekhar is a PhD student at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. Her research work revolves around plasma physics, specifically plasma in the magnetosphere of Earth. She has been associated with BARREL, a NASA Living With a Star project, since 2011, where payloads, mainly involving particle detectors and magnetometers, were launched through balloons for particle studies at low altitudes. Her role in the BARREL team has been mostly data analysis and payload assembly. She also works with data from polar satellite particle detecting instruments such as NOAA POES, DMSP, etc.

Sapna has also done some work with lab plasma at the university, where she built and tested a basic Mach probe. In the future, she hopes to continue her research and have her own data analysis software company.

Through the Summer School, Sapna expects to meet and interact with new people, learn more about Mathematica and its applications, and have a lot of fun!

Project: Forecasting Space Weather from Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) with Image Processing and Machine Learning

The project will analyze time series of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) using image processing and machine learning tools, with the goal of forecasting space weather. The space weather data available from Wolfram servers and CMEs will be taken from the SOHO LASCO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph) C3 telescope.

Project Roadmap and Objectives:

  1. Extract data from CME images.
  2. Apply image processing techniques to restructure the data to a computable format.
  3. Investigate correlations between CME and space weather data and see if machine learning techniques can be used to forecast space weather from CME data.


I will be using Mathematica image processing techniques to study coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) SOHO (Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph) LASCO telescope C3 (covers 3-32 solar radii) corona images.

SOHO (launched in 1995) moves around the Sun in sync with the Earth at the first Lagrangian point (L1), where it is kept in orbit due to the gravitational forces of the Earth and the Sun. The L1 point is approximately 1.5 million kilometers away from Earth (about four times the distance of the Moon), in the direction of the Sun, and therefore provides uninterrupted images of the Sun’s corona.

The Sun can emit bursts of energetic particles trapped in loops of magnetic fields known as CMEs that can affect satellites orbiting the Earth. Monitoring such events helps estimate the time of arrival on Earth, and hence the satellites can be protected from the damage due to the energetic particles. The videos captured by the SOHO LASCO C3 coronagraph provide a real-time coverage of CMEs and can be used to construct a 3D model of their dynamics.

The immediate goals of the study are:

  1. To identify structures like coronal holes, prominences, and coronal loops.
  2. To provide a rough estimate of the speed of the ejected coronal mass.
  3. To study the effects on the energetic particle fluxes as a result of these events.


Wolfram Summer School | Champaign, IL, USA | July 3 29–July 22, 2022