SPACESTORM is a collaborative project to model space weather events and find ways to mitigate their effects on satellites.
Over the last ten years the number of satellites on orbit has grown significantly to more than a thousand. We also depend on satellites more than ever for applications such as TV, internet, mobile phones, navigation, banking and finance. All these satellites must be designed to withstand the harsh radiation in space for up to fifteen years or more. Space weather events can increase radiation levels by five orders of magnitude in the Earth’s radiation belts and trigger bursts of high energy particles which can disrupt satellite operations and sometimes cause a complete satellite loss. Europe is investing heavily in space with the Galileo radio-navigation system and developing a competitive space industry.
It is therefore important that we assess and mitigate the impact of space weather, particularly extreme events.
This project brings together scientists and engineers from across Europe with commercial stakeholders to assess the impact of space weather and develop mitigation strategies. We will undertake studies of past space weather events using state-of-the-art computer models and data analysis techniques. The goal and objectives of this project are sufficiently challenging and important that no one member of the consortium could achieve it on their own. SPACESTORM brings together experts with an international reputation on magnetic field and seed electron dynamics (Finnish Meteorological Institute), data analysis and service provision (D.H. Consultancy), satellite engineering and instrument development (Surrey Space Centre) and laboratory experiments as well as modelling and data (ONERA, French Aerospace Lab). To this consortium, BAS contributes its expertise in radiation belt modelling and wave-particle interactions.
The SPACESTORM project is developing a new set of web displays specifically for satellite operators and designers.
A new system of space weather forecasting was set up and implemented in the SPACECAST project, which was funded by the EU under FP7. The new SPACESTORM project has made a commitment to continue three of these forecasts:
The models used to create these forecasts are being developed further in the SPACESTORM project. Four major improvements to the forecasting models have already been implemented in year 1 of the SPACESTORM project:
SPACESTORM is conducting extensive modelling of space weather events for post event analysis, and carrying out research to improve and verify the models against satellite data.
The project will:
The project will deliver data, mitigation guidelines and experimental results that will continue long after the project and which will improve the design of future satellites.
The new SPACESTORM project has made a commitment to continue three of the forecasts set up in the SPACECAST project:
These forecasts, and many additional scientific data displays to aid interpretation, can be found here.
It must be remembered that space weather forecasting is still at an early stage and there can be a lot of uncertainty. To reduce uncertainty we require more advanced information on the Sun and interplanetary magnetic fields and how they vary, and more measurements of waves and charged particles inside the geometric field. At present, our models take data from the ACE (Advanced Composition Explorer) spacecraft (and in the future DSCOVR – Deep Space Climate Observatory) which means they can only give an accurate forecast up to one hour ahead. Beyond that, most forecasting centres use assumptions about persistence and recurrence of variations in the space environment to make their forecasts which leads to increasing uncertainty