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We Need Reliable Space Weather Forecast
December 8, 2010 19:21

How the Sun affects our weather

For 1 month Russian physicists and astronomers publish information about space weather on the website of the Russian Space Agency. Among other data the website contains information about solar flares, speed of solar wind, and Earth’s magnetosphere, as well as magnetic storm forecast for next 27 days.

Modern satellites are complex and expensive systems, which are often extremely sensitive to the environment. Apparently, their lifetime in space will increase significantly, if these satellites are switched off during strong solar disturbances, which can be predicted and detected. Another application for abovementioned information is forecasting of radiation and ion conditions for planning long-haul manned missions.

The aim of the project on posting latest space weather information to the web is quite simple it this stage. Researchers want to attract attention to their project and show that they are capable of continuous monitoring of the Sun and near space. Anyone can visit the website and see, what the Sun and magnetosphere were as long as ten or thirty minutes before. Such information comes from special orbits, chosen for scientific satellites – they are placed to sites, which can be seen from Earth all the time, and from which the Sun can be seen on a constant basis.

Researchers know such orbits quite well – one of them is L1 neutral point, named after Lagrange – a point of gravitation equilibrium between the Sun and our planet, as far as 1 million km from the Earth – or a geostationary orbit, where a satellite rotates together with the Earth. All measurements arrive to Earth via a transmitter only two minutes after they have been registered. Such a quick data broadcasting is necessary, because everything in the Solar system changes very rapidly.



Satellites, located in the L1 point, provide most accurate data of all. They are able to register a flare and warn the Earth with almost 100% probability. However, this extremely accurate forecast lives only for 20-30 minutes. Space weather around our planet can be predicted 2-3 days in advance according data on the Sun activity – solar disturbances last for about 3-4 days and have patterns, already familiar to researchers. The problem is that these flares differ from each other, and several flares can overlap during activity peak – all this makes a trend much more complicated. General tendency in changes of environmental parameters can be predicted for 27-day period, because this is how long the Sun makes one turn round its axis.

Russian physicists created this project for RosCosmos – Russian Space Agency. Two minisatellites are placed in L1 point and on a geostationary orbit – they monitor all necessary parameters for weather prediction. L1 point is important for measuring characteristics of a solar wind – 1 million kilometers away from our planet guarantee absence of background from our planet’s magnetosphere and radiation belts. Geostationary orbit is perfect for satellite, carrying telescopes for Sun monitoring, which require lots of telemetry.

Hopefully, the satellites would reach their orbits.


Source: the Institute of Physics

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Space     

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