Geospace Missions for
Space Weather and the
Next Scientific Challenges
James Spann, United States, NASA
February 11, 2014
Beautiful motivation
• Geospace Missions
Observation Requirements
Future science missions
• Next Major Science Challenges
o Flare prediction – solar surface and subsurface
o Geoeffectiveness of Space Storms –
interplanetary magnetic field
o Ionospheric variability – ubiquitous impact
• Discipline Challenge
o Operation tools and workforce
Observation Requirements
Space Weather
Observing Systems
for Geospace
Energetic particles
Energetic particles
Energetic particles, imaging,
Ionospheric variability
Ionospheric variability
Magnetic fields, energetic
POES & MetOp
Energetic particles
Magnetic fields
Plasmas, fields
Van Allen
Radiation belt composition and
energetic particles
noctiluscent clouds
ITM parameters
Plasma/particle sensors,
ion outflow
magnetospheric plasma,
particle, field parameters
Auroral structures
Auroral physics
Thermospheric density &
temperature variability
Ionospheric variability
Plasmas, particles, fields
* science missions
** science missions in development
Ground-Based Ionospheric Sensors
Top rated future science missions
in the US highlight Geospace space
weather relevant missions
The first new STP science target is to understand the outer heliosphere and
its interaction with the interstellar medium, as illustrated by the reference
mission Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP).
Implementing IMAP as the first of the STP investigations will ensure
coordination with NASA Voyager missions. The mission implementation
also requires measurements of the critical solar wind inputs to the
terrestrial system.
The second STP science target is to provide a comprehensive
understanding of the variability in space weather driven by loweratmosphere weather on Earth. This target is illustrated by the reference
mission Dynamical Neutral Atmosphere-Ionosphere Coupling (DYNAMIC).
Top rated future science missions
in the US highlight Geospace space
weather relevant missions
The third STP science target is to determine how the magnetosphere-
ionosphere-thermosphere system is coupled and how it responds to solar
and magnetospheric forcing. This target is illustrated by the reference
mission Magnetosphere Energetics, Dynamics, and Ionospheric Coupling
Investigation (MEDICI).
The survey committee describes the next science target best addressed
by the LWS program (is) a mission to understand how Earth’s atmosphere
absorbs solar wind energy, illustrated by the Geospace Dynamics
Constellation (GDC).
A notional spacecraft and instrument implementation for IMAP is based
largely on ACE and IBEX. IMAP is a Sun-pointed spinner, with spin axis
readjustment every few days to provide all-sky maps every 6 months. Mission
goals are achieved with a 2-year baseline, including transit to L1, with possible
extension to longer operation (which would be particularly beneficial for longterm L1 monitoring).
Observations from many spacecraft () contribute dramatically to
understanding solar energetic particle events, the importance of
suprathermal ions for efficient further energization, the sources and evolution
of solar wind, solar-wind and energetic-particle inputs into geospace, and
evolution of the solar-heliospheric magnetic field. These observables are
controlled by a myriad of complex and poorly understood physical effects
acting on distinct particle populations. IMAP combines highly sensitive PUI
(pick-up ions) and suprathermal-ion sensors to provide the critical species,
spectral coverage, and temporal resolution to address these physical
processes. As an L1 monitor, IMAP also would fill a critical hole in Sun-Earth
system observations by measuring the solar wind
New discoveries at the interface of the the heliosphere and the local
intergallactic space give us some insight on very deep space weather. IMAP
would explore that interface further and provide a robust platform for a L1
monitor of space weather.
By resolving the fundamental question of meteorological influences from
below, DYNAMIC will firmly connect the ionosphere-thermosphere (IT)
system to Earth’s lower atmosphere, capturing a critical, missing
component of scientific understanding of geospace and providing a
critical new capability () at an important boundary in near-Earth space.
In establishing the relative importance of thermal expansion, upwelling,
and advection in defining total mass density changes, DYNAMIC will also
provide information fundamental to understanding the global IT response
to forcing from above. This investigation of the contribution of the lower
atmosphere to the mean structure and dynamics of the IT system reflects
a scientific appreciation of the importance of these drivers gained since
the 2003 solar and space physics decadal survey.
DYNAMIC targets the
effects of lower
atmospheric processes on
conditions in space,
characterizing how the
energy and momentum
carried into this region by
atmospheric waves and
tides interact and compete
with solar and
magnetospheric drivers.
Full spatial and temporal
resolution of the wave
inputs is accomplished by
using two identical,
high-inclination, spacebased platforms in similar
orbits, offset by 6 hours of
local time
MEDICI will both benefit from and enhance the science return from almost
any geospace mission that flies contemporaneously, such as upstream solar
wind monitors, geostationary satellites, and low-Earth-orbit missions. In
particular, by providing global context and quantitative estimates for
magnetospheric- ionospheric plasma and energy exchange, MEDICI has
significant value for missions investigating ionospheric conditions, outflow of
ionospheric plasma into the magnetosphere, energy input from the
magnetosphere into the ionosphere, and aurora ionosphere-thermosphere
coupling in general. Thus it will add value to a host of possible ionospheric
strategic missions, Explorers, and rocket and balloon campaigns. Further, with
continuous imaging and in situ observations from two separate platforms, it
would provide indispensable validating observations of system-level
interactions and processes that feed geospace predictive models. The likely
long duration of the notional MEDICI mission will allow it to provide a
transformative framework into which additional future science missions can
naturally fit.
MEDICI targets complex, coupled, and interconnected multiscale behavior of the
magnetosphere-ionosphere-thermosphere system by providing high-resolution,
global, continuous three-dimensional images of the ring current(orange),
plasmasphere (green), aurora, and ionospheric-thermospheric dynamics and
flows, as well as multipoint in situ measurements.
Geospace Dynamic Constellation
GDC will make measurements critical to understanding how the IT system
regulates the response of geospace to external forcing. The constellation of
satellites will provide a complete picture of the dynamic exchange of energy
and momentum that occurs between ionized and neutral gases at high
latitudes, providing the HSO a critical capability for measuring the response
and electrodynamic feedback of Earth’s IT system to drivers originating in the
solar wind and magnetosphere. GDC will also determine the global response
of the IT system to magnetic activity and storms and expose how changes in
the system at different locations are related. Finally, it will determine the
influence of forcing from below on the IT system, by measuring the global
variability of thermospheric waves and tides on a day-to-day basis with the
spatial resolution that only a constellation of satellites can provide.
Features of the 6-spacecraft GDC mission concept
Are these Missions Real?
• The recommended highest priority
science has significant space
weather relevance in Geospace
• The science focus is real
• Next Major Science Challenges
o Flare prediction – solar surface and subsurface
o Geoeffectiveness of Space Storms –
interplanetary magnetic field
o Ionospheric variability – ubiquitous impact
• Discipline Challenge
o Operation tools and workforce development
Scientific Challenge:
• Significant progress has been made predicting
arrival time of space storms
• How geoeffective will a storm be?
o Sometimes yes, sometimes no
• Orientation of magnetic field and velocity are the
first order determinants
• We have magnetic field orientation and magnitude
at L1 with in situ monitors
• Goal: measure the orientation of the magnetic field
as it evolves on its way to Earth
A concept to measure the inner
solar system magnetic field
• Zodiacal light is scattered
sunlight off interplanetary
dust grains
• Dust grains rotate when
illuminated, and become
charged when exposed to
UV and charged particles
• A rotating charged grain will align itself with mag field
• Alignment of a cloud of dust grains will produce
polarized scattered light when illuminated
• Using polarimetry measurements and knowledge of
dust grain optical extinction coefficient, the mag
field direction can be inferred
Scientific Challenge:
Ionospheric Variability
• Ionospheric variability is arguably the most
ubiquitous of all space weather effects on society
• Understanding the nature of the variability is very
• Remote observations of the variability is elusive, but
possible on large and small scales
• To make progress, in situ, ground-based, and large
scale observations are needed
Day to day variability can be outstanding and currently
defies prediction
Noon Sector, December 24, 25, 26, 2011
 Daytime TEC : LISN Network – P.I. C. Valladares
 Outstanding day-to-day variability in equatorial ionosphere
New techniques show us behavior of the
ionosphere that is completely unexpected.
From Thomas Immel’s presentation at AMS Space Weather Conference 2.4-2014
Discipline Challenge:
• Develop a community of space weather
o Space science - scientists
o Space weather - meteorologists
• Develop an effective process to create
decision making tools for space weather
o Governments
o Industries
o Meteorology paradigm
• Users/developers/scientists work very closely in an iterative

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