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Space Weather at ESA
ESA's Space Safety Programme aims at mitigating and preventing the impact of hazards from space, protecting our planet, activities and infrastructures. The programme further builds on the work carried out as part of ESA's Space Situational Awareness programme which took place over the period 2009 - 2019. For more about Space Safety and Security at ESA see Safety and Security.
The ESA Space Weather Service Network
Europe already has a wealth of expertise and assets providing high-quality scientific observations, results and models in the domain of space weather, together with a growing number of space-weather 'products' - processed, usable data - which are being used by customers across Europe in industry, government and research institutes. ESA's Space Weather (SWE) Service Network builds firmly upon this foundation to implement a federated European Space Weather service provision concept, avoiding duplication and ensuring that these existing assets and resources play a key role in Europe's new coordinated Space Weather Service provision system.
The Space Weather Service Network aims to provide timely and reliable space weather information to end users. Individual products, reports, toolkits and user support are grouped into targeted services according to the needs of user communities from spacecraft operators through to power system operators. The online component of the SWE Services can be accessed via the SWE Portal. These online services are complemented by the SWE Helpdesk which is available to respond to queries and requests for support from registered users.
The Space Weather Network is currently in an intensive development phase targeted at developing both service user-tailored interfaces and key models as well as other building blocks that will contribute to improving the accuracy of the information that can be provided to end-users.
During the SSA Programme, the SWE Service Network was established on a test and demonstration basis. As such, service support was made available during normal office hours only. As part of the Space Safety Programme, the service provision system will be further developed and steps taken to transition the Network towards an operational framework, providing information to impacted users whenever it is most needed.
SSA Space Weather Coordination Centre (SSCC)
The SSA Space Weather Coordination Centre (SSCC) is located at the Space Pole in Belgium. The SSCC provides the first European Space Weather Helpdesk, with operators available to answer questions about the SWE Service Network or Space Weather conditions in general. The SSCC operator provides first line support. For specific user requests the SSCC operator relies on the Expert Service Centres to provide second line support.
The SSCC handles the day-to-day monitoring of the continuity and quality of the SWE Service provision, including both products provided by federated Expert Groups and the applications running in the SWE Data Centre in Redu.
The SSCC is active in a number of user engagement activities such as providing dedicated tailored bulletins to high priority users, establishing a programme of high quality Space Weather training courses for professionals and promoting the the ESA SWE Service Network to the Space Weather user communities.
SWE Data Centre
The SWE Service Network is supported by a data centre hosted at ESA's European Space Security and Education Centre, Redu, Belgium. It currently hosts this ESA SWE Portal and the following applications:
- European Debris Impact Database (EDID)
- Ionosphere Monitoring Facility (IONMON)
- Space Environment Data System (SEDAT)
- Space Weather Data Browsing and Analysis (SWE Data)
- Ionospheric Scintillation Monitoring (ISM)
Expert Service Centres and Federated Network
Five distributed Expert Service Centres (ESCs) have been established across Europe. These centres build on existing expertise and link a network of approximately 40 Expert Groups: institutes and organisations with specific expertise and capabilities in space weather. The ESCs are organised according to space weather domain, ensuring full coverage of space weather phenomena and impacts from solar eruptions through to impacts on ground based infrastructure:
The Expert Service Centres provide the products, toolkits and reporting which are federated as part of the SWE Network. They also provide second line expert support for end users, ensuring that users registering for the SWE Services are able to access a very broad range of space weather expertise and support via the SWE Helpdesk.
Space Weather Monitoring System
Through the Space Safety Programme, ESA is also developing the Enhanced Space Weather Monitoring System. Core components of the system will include:
- The Lagrange mission - A dedicated ESA space weather monitoring spacecraft, located at the fifth Lagrange point (L5), providing observations of solar features before they rotate into view, an off Sun-Earth line view of potentially geoeffective solar events as they propagate through interplanetary space and in-situ measurements of the space environment at L5.
- The Distributed Space weather Sensor System (D3S) - A network of sensors for the state and impact monitoring of space weather focussing on near Earth space, providing amongst others in-situ measurements of the magnetosphere, ionosphere and thermosphere as well as remote sensing observations of the interaction of solar events with the Earth's upper atmosphere. The instrumentation will be flying on various hosted payload missions and on dedicated small satellite constellations currently under study. With more in planning, two first hosted payload missions have been realized:
- NGRM on EDRS-C: The New Generation Radiation Monitor provides measurements of the flux of energetic electrons and protons in GEO at 31 degree East
- SOSMAG on GEO-KOMPSAT-2A: The Service Oriented MAGnetometer provides 3-axis magnetic field measurements in GEO at 128.2 degree East
- Robust networks of space weather sensors on ground