A Space weather information service based upon remote and in-situ measurements of coronal mass ejections heading for Earth: A concept mission consisting of six spacecraft in a heliocentric orbit at 0.72 AU
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AuthorRitter, Birgit; Meskers, Arjan J. H.; Miles, Oscar; Rußwurm, Michael; Scully, Stephen; Roldán Aranda, Andrés María; Hartkorn, Oliver; Jüstel, Peter; Réville, Victor; Lupu, Sorina; Ruffenach, Alexis
Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)Remote sensingIn-situ measurementGeomagnetic stormsForecastServices
Ritter, B.; et al. A Space weather information service based upon remote and in-situ measurements of coronal mass ejections heading for Earth: A concept mission consisting of six spacecraft in a heliocentric orbit at 0.72 AU. Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate, 5: A3 (2015). [http://hdl.handle.net/10481/35582]
SponsorshipFinally, the authors acknowledge the financial support by the European Space Agency (ESA), the Aeronautics and Space Agency of Austria FFG, the International Space Science Institute (ISSI), and Austrospace, the association of Austrian space industries and research institutions, all of them making the Alpbach Summer School financially possible. In addition, all participants of the summer school were funded by organisations from their respective member states.
The Earth’s magnetosphere is formed as a consequence of interaction between the planet’s magnetic field and the solar wind, a continuous plasma stream from the Sun. A number of different solar wind phenomena have been studied over the past 40 years with the intention of understanding and forecasting solar behavior. One of these phenomena in particular, Earth-bound interplanetary coronal mass ejections (CMEs), can significantly disturb the Earth’s magnetosphere for a short time and cause geomagnetic storms. This publication presents a mission concept consisting of six spacecraft that are equally spaced in a heliocentric orbit at 0.72 AU. These spacecraft will monitor the plasma properties, the magnetic field’s orientation and magnitude, and the 3D-propagation trajectory of CMEs heading for Earth. The primary objective of this mission is to increase space weather forecasting time by means of a near real-time information service, that is based upon in-situ and remote measurements of the aforementioned CME properties. The obtained data can additionally be used for updating scientific models. This update is the mission’s secondary objective. In-situ measurements are performed using a Solar Wind Analyzer instrumentation package and fluxgate magnetometers, while for remote measurements coronagraphs are employed. The proposed instruments originate from other space missions with the intention to reduce mission costs and to streamline the mission design process. Communication with the six identical spacecraft is realized via a deep space network consisting of six ground stations. They provide an information service that is in uninterrupted contact with the spacecraft, allowing for continuous space weather monitoring. A dedicated data processing center will handle all the data, and then forward the processed data to the SSA Space Weather Coordination Center which will, in turn, inform the general public through a space weather forecast. The data processing center will additionally archive the data for the scientific community. The proposed concept mission allows for major advances in space weather forecasting time and the scientific modeling of space weather.