Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Aerospace Engineering Sciences

First Advisor

Thomas Woods

Second Advisor

Xinlin Li

Third Advisor

Scott Palo

Fourth Advisor

Amir Caspi

Fifth Advisor

Je rey Forbes


Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and solar flares are among the most energetic events in the solar system. As such, they power numerous physical processes in environments that push the limits of theory, observation, data analysis, and laboratory experiments. When these eruptive events are directed toward Earth, their interaction with the earth's upper atmosphere and magnetosphere results in numerous impacts on technology. Thus, solar eruptive events provide a field ripe for scientific study to deepen our understanding of fundamental physics and provide a practical motivation for the development of predictive capabilities.

When CMEs depart from the solar corona, they leave behind a temporary void. These "coronal dimmings" can be characterized to gain information about the CME that produced them. This dissertation presents a new theoretical and observational framework to describe coronal dimmings. Additionally, a new method for deconvolving thermal and mass-loss influences on extreme ultraviolet irradiance is developed. Correlations between coronal dimming irradiance light curve parameters (slope and depth) and CME parameters (speed and mass), driven by the physical theory, is also established. Focus is then turned from CMEs to solar flares in the development of a new, low-cost CubeSat mission { the Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer (MinXSS). The science instruments onboard MinXSS will provide, for the first time, measurements of the solar soft x-rays with moderate spectral resolution across most of the band. An outline of the scientific objectives, spacecraft development, and lessons learned is provided. The primary science instrument on MinXSS -- the X123 silicon drift detector -- has a thermal electric cooler (TEC) to keep the detector at -50 °C, which reduces thermal noise such that the source signal is not lost. The TEC requires its heat sink to remain below +35 °C. A thermal model and thermal balance testing were performed in order to ensure that this and other temperature requirements will be met on orbit. This forward-modeling process and results are finally described.