ESA title
Space weather services timeline
Safety & Security

Space Weather Office

7909 views 22 likes
ESA / Safety & Security

The objective of the Space Weather Office is to provide owners and operators of critical spaceborne and ground-based infrastructure timely and accurate information to enable mitigation of the adverse impacts of space weather. 

In order to achieve accurate and reliable services for customers, constant monitoring of the Sun and the space environment from a range of vantage points is needed, together with timely dissemination of reliable data to those needing the information.

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.

The Space Weather Office is building on this foundation to develop a federated space-weather service-provision concept, avoiding duplication and ensuring that existing assets and resources play a key role in ESA’s Space Weather System.

ESA’s Space Weather Service Network

ESA's Space Weather Network is now being developed so as to provide these services and it consists of the following main elements: 

Coordination Centre ESA's SSA Space Weather Coordination Centre (SSCC) is located at the Space Pole, in Brussels, Belgium, and provides support and service availability monitoring to customers and end-users across Europe
Expert Service Centres

There are five 'Expert Service Centres' (ESCs) consisting of ~40 teams from organisations across Europe who are collaborating to provide tailored products and services for Space Weather Network customers. The five centres are organised according to the following domains, each with a coordinating institute:

  1. Solar weather − Coordinator: Royal Observatory of Belgium, Brussels: Monitors and forecasts solar activity from beneath the solar surface into the corona (the Sun's hot atmosphere), events and processes that drive space weather in our solar system
  2. Heliospheric weather − Coordinator: STFC Ral Space, Harwell, UK: Monitors and forecasts changing conditions in interplanetary space that may lead to disturbances in space weather conditions at Earth and at other locations in the heliosphere (the region of space influenced by the Sun, encompassing the Solar System) 
  3. Space radiation − Coordinator: BIRA-IASB, Brussels, Belgium: Monitors and forecasts space particle radiation (ambient plasma, solar energetic particles, radiation belts, galactic cosmic rays), micron-size particulates (from meteoroids and space debris) as well as all types of resulting effects on technologies and biological systems 
  4. Ionospheric weather − Coordinator: DLR-IMPC, Neustrelitz, Germany: Monitors and forecasts ionospheric and upper atmospheric conditions, in particular the disturbances resulting from solar and geomagnetic activity which may impact radio signal propagation or lead to increased satellite drag 
  5. Geomagnetic conditions − Coordinator: TGO, Tromsø, Norway: Monitors and forecasts varying conditions in the Earth's magnetosphere, on various timescales, which may lead to induced currents generated in power distribution systems or long pipelines, disrupt magnetic surveying and influence resource exploitation at high latitudes 
SWE Data Centre ESA's Space Weather Network is supported by a data centre hosted at ESA's European Space Security and Education Centre, Redu, Belgium, providing access to the ESA Space Weather Service Network website and a large data repository

The Space Weather Network is currently in an intensive development phase targeted at developing both customer-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.

The Network is now being managed in a 'pre-operational' framework, with live support available only during normal working hours. In the future, steps will be taken to mature the service provision system and prepare the Network for transition to a fully operational framework.

SSA space weather services

Current cosmic radiation map
Current cosmic radiation map

SSA space weather services enable the detection and forecasting of space weather events, and their effects on European space assets and ground-based infrastructure. Currently (end 2017), the 39 SSA space weather services each consist of multiple elements and target the needs of customers/end-users in the following domains:

  • Spacecraft design and spacecraft operations
  • Human spaceflight
  • Launch operations
  • Communications and navigation
  • Space surveillance and tracking
  • Operation of power grids and power distribution systems
  • Airlines and aviation
  • Resource/mineral exploration/exploitation
  • Pipeline operations
  • Auroral tourism
  • General data services
ESA's SSA Space Weather Coordination Centre, Space Pole, Brussels
ESA's SSA Space Weather Coordination Centre, Space Pole, Brussels

Each of the SSA space weather services brings together state-of-the-art European assets and expertise in order to provide customers/end-users with the most timely and relevant information for their intended purpose. These services consist of:

  • 'Products' - processed, usable data sets
  • Toolkits
  • Reporting/alerting
  • Expert support

These elements are provided in each case by the teams forming the ESA Space Weather Service Network and are accessed by customers through a dedicated website operated by ESA's SSA Space Weather Coordination Centre and providing online guidance, data and support.

Related Links