Start date
1 April, 2014
End date
31 March, 2017

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.

SPACESTORM illustration
Figure showing the Earth’s radiation belts and satellite orbits primarily affected by energetic electrons trapped in the highly variable outer radiation belt. The Sun (top left) ultimately controls the variability of the outer radiation belt and information from the ACE satellite, located between the Sun and the Earth, provides some of the input data that drive our radiation belt models and forecasts. (Image arranged by BAS from the following source material – radiation belts: NASA Scientific Visualization Studio/Walt Feimer; solar image/globe/ACE satellite: NASA; Galileo satellite: ESA)


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:

  • Forecast of the high energy electrons, 300 keV to >2 MeV
  • A ‘Nowcast’ of the low energy electrons, 40 to 150 keV
  • Radiation dose rates due to energetic protons.

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:

  • Improved model of the source of electron population for the low energy electron ‘Nowcast’.
  • Improved initial conditions for the high energy electron forecasts.
  • New model of chorus wave-particle interactions for the high energy electrons.
  • Inclusion of losses due to magnetopause shadowing in the high energy electron forecasts.


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:

  • Generate a thirty year reconstructed data set for MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) and determine the space radiation environment for a 1 in 100 year event, and model extreme event scenarios.
  • Increase knowledge on key physical processes underpinning radiation belt dynamics and improve the representation of physical processes in numerical models and reduce uncertainty.
  • Use data, models, and plasma theory to define the radiation environment for extreme space weather events, and conduct simulations and experiments to determine the impact on systems and components.
  • Assess the risk and develop new mitigation guidelines.
  • Perform experiments on new materials and techniques to reduce surface charging on solar arrays, and develop better physical models to forecast the radiation belts to provide warnings and alerts.
  • Develop a stakeholder community and deliver the results in a form accessible to the public.

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.

Halley radars

Studying winds, waves, and tides in the upper atmosphere across the polar regions.


Search coil magnetometer Several kinds of natural waves in the ultra-low-frequency (ULF) range are generated in Earth’s space environment (the magnetosphere, bounded by Earth’s magnetic field as it extends into …