Study of Plasma and Energetic Electron Effects

ESA's Technology Research Programme; Ref. Contract 11974/96/NL/JG(SC); with FMI (Fin) and IRF (S) 1996-1998



The present study is directed towards the analysis of the actual environment at the origin of electrostatic charging on satellite surfaces and within dielectric materials and anomalies. The ability to determine what constitutes a hazardous environment and its probability to occur, and how data from different sources can be applied to predict anomaly or anomaly occurrence will also be investigated.

This will include actual environmental data analysis, development of data processing tools and recommendations for the next generation of simulation tools dedicated to the effect of the plasma environment analysis. The principal objectives of this activity are to improve our current knowledge of the high energy electron environment as it is actually experienced by spacecraft, to check the va- lidity of the existing tools and to prepare for the next generation of tools that would be able to take into account plasma effects for post-event analysis of anomaly events, spacecraft operations and mission analysis. The work is divided in three equally divided parts: (i) Analysis of a low Earth polar orbiting spacecraft charging data set, (ii) development of an anomaly risk forecast system and (iii) study and tools development for global geospace modelling and prediction.

Products & Information

The products expected to be delivered are:

  • a physical model of the charging process on low Earth polar orbit in the aurora;
  • a database of auroral charging environments and statistical distribution of them;
  • a test of the applicability of charging code available at ESTEC for LEO polar environment;
  • a forecasting tool of geosynchronous anomalies;
  • a report on the state of the art of space weather modelling in Europe;
  • a URD and SRD for numerical tools for global geospace modelling;
  • a WWW information server to coordinate in space weather forecasting and resources within ESA community and world-wide on space weather modelling in Europe;


  • Exchange between the consortium team and D. Cooke (Philips Laboratory, US) creator of Polar charging code who visited the team members;
  • triggering or accompaniment of the rise of interest of academic and European actors for space weather activity including:
  • the organisation of a special meeting at the general assembly of IAGA on international collaboration on space weather co-initiated by H. Koskinen and
  • the creation of an ad-hoc working group on Space Weather;
  • the collection of the opinion on space weather from the main European actors via a questionnaire sent by e-mail;


FMI H. Koskinen Technical manager and FMI main contact
IRF L. Eliasson IRF-K main contact
  B. Holback IRF-U main contact
ESTEC A. Hilgers Initiator and Technical officer