Space weather phenomena such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and associated solar particle events (SPEs) can damage critical space-based and terrestrial infrastructure. Operators of such systems have a compelling need for a capability to forecast major space weather storms and potential effects towards risk mitigation. Currently available tools are research-oriented and may not be suitable for operational use. CFD Research and the University of Alabama in Huntsville propose to develop a novel Radiation, Interplanetary Shocks, and Coronal Sources (RISCS) toolset by enhancing and integrating existing research codes into a software product for situational assessment and decision making related to space operations. Key technology features and innovations include: (1) efficient coupling between component codes that describe inner heliosphere, particle energization, and transport of solar energetic particles; (2) modularity via standardized interfaces for data exchange; (3) development in consultation with NASA and selected end users; (4) improved numerical algorithms and physics models of component codes; and (5) customized configuration of the final product for transition to operations (R2O). During Phase I, we have identified potential end users and technology transition avenues; derived RISCS design requirements for operational use; identified features, relevant performance metrics, and limitations of existing space weather modeling software; and derived a RISCS toolset design for operational performance and R2O transition. During Phase II, we will fully implement the software framework, improve numerical/physics models of component codes, extensively test RISCS for error detection and handling, run end-to-end simulations of the modular code to demonstrate that RISCS meets the specified design requirements, and customize and deliver RISCS to selected end users.
This topic directly addresses NASA’s R2O/O2R responsibilities outlined in the NSWAP, specifically their goal to understand the Sun and its interactions with Earth, including space weather. It also supports NASA SMD’s goal to coordinate efforts to prepare the nation for space weather events, and is aligned with Technology Roadmap TA-11 (11.2.0 on Modeling). The developed RISCS toolkit will support mission operations by using measured SPE characteristics to forecast downstream effects and implement mitigation solutions.
A predictive capability for SPE-induced radiation and resulting operational effects can help mission/equipment managers schedule tasks and adopt risk mitigation strategies. Directly relevant to DoD agencies and commercial entities with space-based or high-altitude assets (e.g., satellites), commercial aviation, navigation/GPS, radio communications, utilities/power transmission, oil pipelines.