Human Spaceflight - Increased crew radiation exposure risk
A screen capture from the COMESEP Alert System web page from 21 September 2015
shows the issued geomagnetic and SEP storm alerts following the detection of two
solar flares and a CME in the top part. A timeline of these alerts is shown in the
bottom part where the colours represent the expected risk level.
The service “Human Spaceflight: Increased crew radiation exposure risk” aims to provide information which can be used to help estimate the expected in-flight radiation dose. Radiation environments considered include solar energetic particles, galactic cosmic rays, and Earth’s radiation belts. This service is made possible by providing forecasts of local area radiation fluxes combined with spacecraft and human phantom shielding geometry models. The service is intended for personnel involved in monitoring the expected radiation environment during crewed space missions.
This service is implemented through a combination of products, tools and alerts which can be found through the following tabs along with expert support provided by the teams constituting the ESA Space Weather Service Network. Should you require further guidance in the use of this service, or have specific questions about any aspects of the service presented here, don’t hesitate to contact the Helpdesk.
Near-Earth environment forecasts
Forecasts for near-Earth solar energetic particles and geomagnetic conditions are provided by these products:
- COMESEP provides forecasts of geomagnetic storms and solar energetic particle (SEP) radiation storms;
- HESPERIA provides forecasts of solar energetic particle (SEP) events at low and high proton energy ranges;
- Alert/E provides forecast of geomagnetic and solar radiation storms generated by the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre (MOSWOC);
- FORIND provides nowcasts and forecasts of geomagnetic and solar indices needed for modelling in support of atmospheric drag calculation;
- UAH provides geomagnetic indices, Dst Forecast, geomagnetic conditions and a regional geomagnetically induced currents proxy;
- IRF provides a forecast of geomagnetic indices: Kp, Dst and dB/dt;
Solar activity forecasts
Forecasts of solar activity and their propagation through the heliosphere are provided by these products:
- ROB/SIDC provides probabilistic forecasts for the occurrence of X-ray flares determined by the Solar Influences Data Analysis Center (SIDC);
- A-Effort is an on-line solar-flare prediction service that monitors, evaluates, and provides advance warning of intense solar flare activity;
- UKMO provides the probability for the occurance of solar flares generated by the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre (MOSWOC);
- Flarecast is a fully automated forecasting system for solar flares;
- Enlil/E provides predictions of CME arrival times and solar wind speed and density near Earth based on the Enlil 3d heliospheric model;
- DBM provides CME near-Earth arrival time predictions based on the magnetohydrodynamical drag;
- DBEM provides CME arrival time predictions based on ensemble runs of the DBM model;
- PROPTOOL allows users to propagate CMEs, corotating structures and SEPs through the interplanetary medium;
This service page is curated by the ESC Space Radiation. For further information, please contact SSCC Helpdesk.
Particle radiation in the form of Solar Energetic Particles and Galactic Cosmic Rays is considered the main hazard for human spaceflight, specifically when considering a potential return trip to the Moon or interplanetary travel in general. Even at Low Earth Orbit (LEO) like the International Space Station, particle radiation poses a risk as energetic particles can penetrate deep into the magnetosphere, in particular in the polar regions. Furthermore, spacecraft passing the Van Allen radiation belts need to take into account the increased radiation levels in these regions. Forecasting the space environment to evaluate the possible health effects of space particle radiation on humans is therefore necessary.
Near-Earth environment forecasts
Forecasts for solar proton events are provided by the COMESEP, HESPERIA and Alert/E products. The COMESEP Alert System delivers fully automated alerts for the risk of an SEP event with protons energies >10 MeV and >60 MeV following the obervation of a M- or X- class flare. HESPERIA REleASE uses near relativistic electron measurements to provide a forecast for 15.8-39.8 MeV and 28.2-50.1 MeV protons with a lead time of up to 90 minutes, while the HESPERIA UMASEP-500 scheme issues a >500 MeV SEP prediction based on a time lag-correlation of solar electromagnetic flux with the particle flux near Earth. Alert/E provides the probability for a solar radiation storm of protons with energies >10 MeV for the next 4 days and is updated twice daily by the forecaster of the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre (MOSWOC). Forecasts for geomagnetic storms in terms of indices are provided by the UAH, IRF, COMESEP, ALert/E and FORIND products.
Solar Activity forecasts and propagation through the heliosphere
Solar Flares forecasts are provided by automatic tools (A-Effort, Flarecast) and human forecasters (ROB/SIDC, UKMO). The CME propagation times are provided by DBM (near Earth), DBEM, and Enlil/E. To track CMEs, corotating streams and energetic particles in the heliosphere, the tool PROPTOOL can be used. The SIDC also provides a daily space weather bulletin.
For further information, please contact SSCC Helpdesk.
Solar Activity: (Near-) Real-time Measurements
Solar Activity: Forecasts
Interplanetary Medium at L1: Forecasts
- SIDC Latest daily space weather bulletin
- Solar Wind Forecast Speed Comparison
- Near-Earth solar wind forecasts (WSA-Enlil + Ensemble)
- Empirical solar wind speed forecast
- Empirical solar wind speed forecast
- Solar wind speed forecast (STEREO-A persistence model)
- AWARE_NEXT Enhanced 24 hour solar wind forecast
Interplanetary Medium Outside L1: Forecasts
Magnetospheric Environment: (Near-) Real-time Measurements
Magnetospheric Environment: Forecasts
Thermospheric and Atmospheric Conditions: Forecasts
Spacecraft Effects and Anomalies: (Near-) Real-time Measurements
Spacecraft Effects and Anomalies: Forecasts
The propagation tool supports the assessment of CME (Coronal Mass Ejections) and CIR (Corotating Interaction Regions) and SEP (Solar Energetic Particle) arrival times at planets, spacecraft and other solar system objects such as comets. It supports the tracking of heliospheric structures using white light J-maps and has access to catalogues of CME/CIR trajectories. It is also connected to science archives of in-situ data (AMDA) and imagery data to assist with posteriori analysis.
The Drag-Based Model (DBM) tool provides predictions of the interplanetary coronal mass ejection (ICME) travel and its arrival at an arbitrary ecliptic-plane location or at already listed planets and satellites in ecliptic-plane orbits. Calculations are based on the assumption that the dominant force in the heliospheric dynamics of ICMEs is the magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) equivalent of the aerodynamic drag. From portal release 3.4 DBM is provided as part of the DBEM product.
The Drag-Based Ensemble Model (DBEM) tool provides predictions of the Interplanetary Coronal Mass Ejection (ICME) travel and its arrival at an arbitrary ecliptic-plane location. Calculations are based on the standard DBM assumption that the dominant force is the MHD equivalent of aerodynamic drag. In the ensemble version the model is run multiple times by perturbing input parameters to build up a statistical view of the most likely outcome. The DBEMv3 extension, released with Portal 3.3, adds the ability to specify the CME geometry using the graduated cylindrical shell model.
This section provides links to web pages or resources that are not part of the ESA Space Weather Service Network or esa.int domain. These sites are not under ESA control, and therefore ESA is not responsible for any of the information or links that you may find there.
- Directive 2013/59/Euratom Basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation.
- ECSS-E-ST-10-04C Space environment (15 June 2020)
- ECSS-E-ST-10-12C Method for the calculation of radiation received and its effects, and a policy for design margins (issued on 15 November 2008)
- ECSS-E-HB-10-12A Calculation of radiation and its effects and margin policy handbook (issued on 17 December 2010)