Tag Archives: Space Weather

The Van Allen Probes Web Site

The Van Allen Probes, the second mission of NASA\’s Living With a Star program, are providing unprecedented insight into the physical dynamics of the radiation belts and are providing scientists the data they need to make predictions of changes in this critical region of space.

Van Allen Probes

Since their launch on Aug. 30 2012, the two Van Allen Probes have orbited the Earth, sampling the harsh radiation belt environment where major space weather activity occurs and many spacecraft operate.

via The Van Allen Probes Web Site.

Advanced Composition Explorer – Earth Bombardment

The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) is an Explorer mission that was managed by the Office of Space Science Mission and Payload Development Division of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). More on the ACE personnel, including scientific Co-Investigators can be found here.

Graphic of L1 location GIF

ACE launched on a McDonnell-Douglas Delta II 7920 launch vehicle on August 25, 1997 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Earth is constantly bombarded with a stream of accelerated particles arriving not only from the Sun, but also from interstellar and galactic sources. Study of these energetic particles contributes to our understanding of the formation and evolution of the solar system as well as the astrophysical processes involved. The Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) spacecraft carrying six high-resolution sensors and three monitoring instruments samples low-energy particles of solar origin and high-energy galactic particles with a collecting power 10 to 1000 times greater than past experiments.

ACE orbits the L1 libration point which is a point of Earth-Sun gravitational equilibrium about 1.5 million km from Earth and 148.5 million km from the Sun. From its location at L1 ACE has a prime view of the solar wind, interplanetary magnetic field and higher energy particles accelerated by the Sun, as well as particles accelerated in the heliosphere and the galactic regions beyond.

ACE also provides near-real-time 24/7 continuous coverage of solar wind parameters and solar energetic particle intensities (space weather). When reporting space weather ACE provides an advance warning (about one hour) of geomagnetic storms that can overload power grids, disrupt communications on Earth, and present a hazard to astronauts.

via ACE Mission.

SDO – Solar Dynamics Observatory

Predictions of Space Weather are reported by NOAA\’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). The intensities of solar and geomagnetic storms are reported using the SWPC\’s Space Weather Scales. One use of these scales would be to not fly polar routes if the Space Weather Scale for Radio Blackouts was R 3 or higher. We also try to predict the space weather next month and next year, but that effort is only beginning.

Data and models from Living With a Star research will allow us to build accurate, data-assimilation models of the Earth’s radiation belts, thermosphere and ionosphere. Users of space weather data would like a picture of today\’s particle environment and ionosphere to allow them to anticipate radiation doses, radio outages and GPS navigation errors. Data from the Radiation Belt Storm Probes, due to be launched in 2012, will provide the data to make predictive models of the radiation belts that affect many satellites. The I TSP mission will study the effects of space weather in the mid-latitude thermosphere and ionosphere.

Physicists can predict these events by monitoring the conditions in the solar wind from satellites such as ACE. Conditions that are likely to lead to a magnetic storm are a high solar wind speeds (> 500 km/s) and a southward oriented interplanetary magnetic field (Bz~ –10 nT). (The interplanetary magnetic field comes from the Sun and is carried out through the solar system by the solar wind.)

via SDO – Solar Dynamics Observatory.