group are active in several areas of the application of space plasma physics.
(1) We recently helped to define ESA's future space weather monitoring programme
as part of a contract led by Alcatel space industries.
(2) We recently conducted two studies part-funded by the satellite insurance
industry, as part of the Tsunami initiative, to examine the effects of space
weather on satellites. The first involved the development of a prototype "black
box" detector to be carried by future commercial satellites. This will add
much needed data to what are currently sparse records of the radiation
environment near the Earth. The second study involved the characterisation of
the magnetospheric environment at times of satellite anomalies. We produced
a prototype web-based prediction tool for predicting periods of enhanced relativistic electron
fluxes that may be hazardous to satellites, calibrated using earlier data.
(3) We are working with MSSL's solar
physics group on a study of radiation from space in aircraft cabins. This is a
PPARC PIPSS award with Virgin Atlantic as the industrial partner; the study also
includes the CAA and NPL.
Satellites in Danger: The GPS satellites orbit brings them
through the heart of the radiation belts, modelled in the figure above.
are studying the science behind space weather in our main stream research,
using data from Polar, Geotail, Wind, STRV-1a and CRRES - and the
exciting Cluster satellite quartet will reveal the underlying small scale
processes for the first time.
Coming Our Way: The LASCO chronograph on the SOHO
spacecraft uses an occulting disc to from an artificial eclipse allowing the
suns atmosphere to be seen. (the white circle shows the size of the sun). The
coronal mass ejection seen here headed straight towards the Earth on June 6th
2000, causing a huge geomagnetic storm.