Developing an SEP Advanced Warning System

2017-09-01 15:13 by Piers Jiggens

The ASPECS project to develop an SEP Advanced Warning System

The presence of Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) poses a serious health risk to humans in space, can result in increased radiation doses for high-latitude aircraft flights and constitutes a serious hazard for the micro-electronics and other hardware elements of satellites, aircraft and launchers. These groups of end users want reliable forecasts of possible enhancements in the radiation flux level, days beforehand, in order to plan flights, operations and EVAs (extra-vehicular activities).

Enhancements of SEP fluxes result from explosive phenomena in the solar corona; these enhancements are known as Solar Particle Events (SPEs). There are two phenomena known to contribute to SPEs namely Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections. CME-driven shocks might be the key driver but Solar Flare forecasting is much more advanced and SPEs driven by shocks normally have associated flares.

A new activity to develop an SEP Advanced Warning System (SAWS) has been initiated in July 2017. The activity named ASPECS (Advanced Solar Particle Events (SPEs) Casting System) will take a modular approach to ingest all relevant solar and in-situ measurements in order to forecast the onset of SPEs and their characteristics. The system will provide forecasts 2-3 days in advance based on solar magnetogram data and solar flare predictions with updates as more information about CMEs and later in-situ data becomes available and a possible particle storm approaches. Therefore the forecast will improve as we get closer to the event - just like weather forecasting on Earth!

This activity will be overseen by the Institute for Astronomy, Astrophysics, Space Applications and Remote Sensing (IAASARS) - part of the National Observatory of Athens with support from SPARC (Greece), University of Turku (Finland), University of Barcelona (Spain) and the Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy.

More information can be found on the ASPECS project website.

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