Please select your home edition
Edition
upffront 728x90

Spacecast project to forecast space weather goes live

by Athena Dina on 1 Mar 2012
The Earths Electron Radiation belts British Antarctic Survey © http://www.antarctica.ac.uk
A new European Union system to forecast space weather goes live today, 1st March. Led by researchers at British Antarctic Survey (BAS), the €2.54m Spacecast project will provide frequent and reliable web-based forecasts so that satellite operators can take action to protect their satellites from space radiation damage.

Researchers from six European countries, working in partnership with colleagues in the USA and two European companies, use satellite data, ground-based measurements of the Earth’s magnetic field, and state-of-the-art computer models to forecast space weather for the region where most satellites orbit the Earth. This is the so-called Van Allen radiation belt – a doughnut-shaped ring of charged particles, trapped within the Earth’s magnetic field that encircles the planet high above the equator.

Space weather is of intense interest to the UK and US Governments. Millions of dollars have been lost as a result of large magnetic storms in space causing satellite damage. In 2003 a large magnetic storm caused more than 47 satellites to malfunction, including the total loss of a scientific satellite valued at $640m. The largest magnetic storm ever recorded – the Carrington storm of 1859 – occurred long before society became reliant on satellites for TV, internet, navigation and telecommunications. If such a super-storm occurred again the cost could be as high as $30bn1.

Changes on the Sun trigger magnetic storms around the Earth, and during the 11-year sunspot cycle the number of moderate to large magnetic storms varies from about 15 to 60 per year or more. A new sunspot maximum is expected to increase the number of magnetic storms between 2013 and 2015. The new forecast system, which is updated every hour, will help protect satellites used for navigation, telecommunications, remote sensing and other services.

Professor Richard Horne from British Antarctic Survey, who is leading the project, said 'The Sun is becoming more active again triggering more geomagnetic storms which generally increase space radiation. These changes are an important part of space weather and are a serious natural hazard. For the first time we can now forecast radiation levels for a whole range of different orbits, from geostationary to medium Earth orbit where there is a tremendous growth in the number of satellites. Nobody has done that before.'

'In putting this system together we have adapted our research models for operational needs. We can forecast one to three hours ahead; longer than that and changes can happen so quickly that we lose reliability.'

The forecasts are available online and provide a risk index for satellite operators. Satellites continue to operate during space weather events, but given advance warning operators can reduce the risk of disruption by switching off non-essential systems, re-routeing signals, and by re-scheduling orbit manoeuvres and software upgrades.

One of the novel features of the forecasts is that space radiation levels are computed from the physics of wave-particle interactions. Observations at British Antarctic Survey’s Halley Research Station, Antarctica, have long shown that special types of very low frequency VLF electromagnetic waves can increase as well as decrease space radiation levels2. These variations (or VLF wave measurements) are now incorporated into the forecasting models. Over the next two years Spacecast will be working on the physics so that the team can improve the forecasts, extend them to the lower energy ‘seed’ electrons, and model solar energetic particle events. British Antartic Survey website
InSunSport - NZNaiad/Oracle SupplierSchaefer 2016 Ratchet Block 660x82

Related Articles

Kids Polarised Sunglasses from Barz Optics
Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Barz Optics have developed a quality range of junior polarised sunglasses ideal for sailing and fishing. Each pair are supplied with a neoprene case and sunglass retainer.
Posted on 4 Aug
Reducing weight aloft with composite backstays
Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Reducing weight aloft is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing your boat speed and performance. Every kilogram you take out of the rig is roughly equivalent to 4kg added to the bottom of your keel!
Posted on 26 Jul
Free $US3,000 Carbon Vang with SouthernFurl boom orders in July
Southern Spars is giving a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July Southern Spars is giving away a free carbon vang - valued at US$3,000 - with all of their SouthernFurl in-boom furlers ordered in July. Carbon gas vangs make a great addition to the furling boom package, though if you’d prefer to keep your existing one, Southern Spars will offer you a 5% discount on the price of your boom instead.
Posted on 29 Jun
Newport Bermuda Race - High Noon takes honours
As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, As the Newport Bermuda Race fleet rushed to the finish line on Monday in the wake of the first-to-finish boat, the powerful 100-foot grand prix Comanche, to the surprise of many they were led by an unusual boat and crew. High Noon, at 41 feet, is fully 59 feet shorter than Comanche and tens of feet shorter than many other entries.
Posted on 22 Jun
Platino recovery - Family confirms that tug has made rendezvous
Reports in social media say a salvage tug has made a rendezvous with the Platino earlier than expected. Reports in social media by family and friends of Nick Saull, the crew member killed during a catastrophic incident abroad the 66ft yacht Platino say the salvage tug which left on Tuesday night has made the rendezvous earlier than expected. The Facebook report says the tug, Sea Pelican, arrived on Friday morning, the weather in the area has eased and with a more favorable outlook.
Posted on 16 Jun
Royal Queensland Yacht Squadron to ban bottled water
Approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. The RQYS Management Committee has confirmed that approval has been given to create a ban on bottled water that comes in plastic containers. This will place the club as a leader in environmental impact management in Australia and around the world. The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club earlier this year did likewise. Who’s next?
Posted on 16 Jun
SouthernFurl In-Boom furling systems withstand Sydney Hobart test
Southern Spars design team have developed the SouthernFurl Boom smaller budgets and yachts from 35-70 feet. Have you ever scared your family when you got stuck with too much sail up when you should be reefed? Southern Spars’ range of SouthernFurl booms are the answer – letting you reduce sail quickly and easily without leaving the safety of the cockpit.
Posted on 23 May
2016 Garda Trentino Olympic Week - Day 4
Garda Trentino Olympic Week 2016 draws near to the conclusion: the weather once again proves difficult. Garda Trentino Olympic Week 2016 draws near to the conclusion: the weather once again proves difficult. Tomorrow the medal race is scheduled for the Lasers and another two races for the three paralympic classes.
Posted on 13 May
CCA presents RCC Award to Scott and Mary Flanders
CCA has announced that Scott and Mary Flanders are the recipients of the organization’s 2015 Royal Cruising Club Trophy. The Cruising Club of America (CCA) has announced that Scott and Mary Flanders are the recipients of the organization’s 2015 Royal Cruising Club Trophy.
Posted on 22 Apr
Cyclone Winston Relief Fund – Help the people of Fiji
Sea Mercy is sending volunteer fleet of small and large vessels, loaded with shelter, food and medical supplies to Fiji. Sea Mercy is once again sending our volunteer fleet of small and large vessels, loaded with shelter, food, water and medical supplies and teams to Fiji.
Posted on 27 Feb