Saturday, January 15, 2011

Weather and space.

       Twenty hours left for an international space weather meet which is starting at Calangute in Goa, and here comes the news that two months ago in November 2010 a major European scientific conference, ESA (European Space Agency) had been organised at Bruges in Belgium.
      At this important meet experts presented plans for the initial versions of space weather hazard warning services, soon to be offered as part of the Agency's Space Situational Awareness Preparatory Programme.

     According to SpaceRef.Com an interesting space website, experts from ESA's Space Situational Awareness Preparatory Programme (SSA-PP) presented the latest overview of soon-to-be-deployed space weather warning services.

    The event is one of the world's top venues for scientists, engineers and researchers studying space weather and its impacts on critical technologies and systems.

   One major focus of the conference was ESA's SSA programme, and its preparations to launch initial warning services against hazards such as solar storms and magnetic storms. Such natural phenomenon present serious hazards to all satellites in Earth orbit, astronauts on board the ISS and to some infrastructure on the ground, such as communication systems and power distribution networks at northern latitudes.

  Latest information on ESA's SSA system

  Space weather experts from ESA presented the latest information on current studies to define the first space weather 'precursor services' that will be offered by the SSA system to customers such as satellite operators and developers. The first services are due to be deployed during 2011 and will be followed by more during the course of the SSA Preparatory Programme.

  "We were very happy to include as part of this year's event, a joint session covering the main SSA space weather activities together with presentations on a broad range of new space weather-focussed R&D studies supported by the European Comission. This was also the first public presentation of these studies, which will be highly complementary to our ongoing SSA work," said ESA's Alexi Glover, a space weather expert and one of the conference organizers.

  Solar storms generate large amounts of radiation and particles that can arrive at Earth and harm satellites within less than 24 hours. Satellites orbiting between the Sun and Earth themselves provide some of the best 'early-warning' vantage points.

  Another SSA study presented at ESWW7 covers identifying the instrumentation that will be needed to perform space-based space weather observations and the optimal locations from which to make these observations. In order to achieve reliable space weather warning services, constant monitoring of the space environment from a range of vantage points on ground and in space will be needed, together with timely dissemination of reliable data to customers.

  SSA: Reuse of exisiting European capabilities

  The SSA programme is also assessing existing European space weather facilities and capabilities that could be incorporated into the future full SSA system. Typical examples of existing national assets include space weather observatories, centres of analytical excellence, warning and forecasting networks, radiation and dosimetry expertise and space weather computational models, tools and data processing facilities.


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