Science Working Groups

A number of SMILE Science Working Groups have been established in order to support the SMILE mission development and operations, ensuring that the science objectives are achieved and optimised, and adding value to SMILE science through the contributions of complementary measurements on the ground and in space.

SWG - Science Operations (Chair: Philippe Escoubet, ESA)
This WG has been established to coordinate the preparations and the smooth running of SMILE's flight operations. Current activities comprise the preparation of the Master Science Plan, the definition of planning/commanding requirements for the spacecraft and the four instruments in the payload, and the interfaces with the ground systems of both CAS and ESA.

SWG - In Situ (Chair: Lei Dai, NSSC/CAS)
The WG activity is centred on optimising the design, operations and calibrations planning of the in situ instrument package. A report reviewing science objectives, pointing and measurement accuracy requirements, operational modes, calibration plans and data products is being prepared.

SWG - Data Formats and Calibration (Chair: Catarina Alves de Oliveira, ESA)
The WG had a kick-off meeting at ESAC, near Madrid, Spain, in January 2018. Studies and discussions are ongoing in order to establish the most effective way to incorporate the remote sensing and in situ data which SMILE will return into a user-friendly framework, taking into account the different formats used. The WG has picked up momentum from the monthly teleconferences where topics such as the science data exchange process, commonly used formats of remote sensing and in situ data, and the conversion between them, archiving and version control, are presented and discussed in view of their eventual implementation. The presentations can be accessed using ESA COSMOS account credentials.

SWG - Ground-Based and Additional Science (GBAS) (Chair: Jenny Carter, Leicester University)
Links with ground observers are already well established (as illustrated in the SMILE ground-based support document by Carter et al. 2015). Preliminary contacts with operational and forthcoming space missions are taking place in order to coordinate observing and software efforts.

SWG - Outreach (Chair: Graziella Branduardi-Raymont, MSSL/UCL)
Much discussion and activity is taking place generating contacts with organisations promoting science in primary and secondary schools, holding workshops and advocating careers in science, focusing on SMILE as a practical example of how space projects are developed, and encouraging pupils to follow its progress to launch and beyond. Many of these public engagement initiatives are similar to those organised in the context of other space missions. A White Paper has been produced which collates the approaches taken in the UK and provides recommendations for best practice. The WG is happy to share presentations on SMILE and outreach material (password protected) and welcomes their use targeted to engage more cohorts of students.

SWG - Modelling (Co-Chairs: Hyunju Connor, GSFC/NASA, Tianran Sun, NSSC/CAS, Andrey Samsonov, MSSL/UCL)
This WG aims to coordinate and drive the simulation and modelling activities ongoing in many SMILE collaborating institutes and leading to predict the soft X-ray images which SXI will generate. This work, simulating the changes which can be expected in magnetospheric boundary locations under differing solar wind conditions, coupled with investigations of how to extract magnetospheric boundary and cusp positions, is essential in order to optimise the SXI observing strategy once SMILE is operational. The WG is very active, with monthly teleconferences where research work is reported and discussed in detail. The WG has also been meeting face-to-face on the occasions of SWT and Consortium meetings, with one day of presentations and workshop-type discussions preceeding the SWT and Consortium gatherings.The WG website can be found here.

SMILE Kick-off / Consortium Meeting #1 (3-4 Sept. 2015, UCL - MSSL, UK)

The SMILE Kick-off Meeting was held at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory of University College London with participation of the collaborating institutes and space agencies, and of those keen to get involved. Very much enthusiasm for the SMILE mission, its scientific objectives and the techniques it employs was demonstrated by the meeting participants. A group photo showing many smiling faces can be seen here. The programme of the meeting is here and the presentations, with their sequential numbers as listed in the programme, are collected here. The SMILE Consortium, in addition to ESA and CAS, includes institutes and aerospce companies from the UK, China, Canada, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the USA.

ISSI-BJ Forum (6-7 July 2016, Beijing, China)

A well attended and highly successful Forum on "The Link between Solar Wind, Magnetosphere, Ionosphere" was held at the International Space Science Institute in Beijing, China: fundamental scientific questions on how the Sun controls the Earth's magnetic environment were raised and discussed in detail. These are the issues that SMILE measurements will tackle, providing important contributions to our understanding of the link between the solar wind and the terrestrial magnetosphere. The programme of the Forum can be found here. The sequentially numbered presentations are collected here. An extensive report of the content and outcome of the Forum is presented in the ISSI-BJ magazine Taikong. Here is a photo of the Forum participants on the steps of the CAS NSSC building.

SMILE Consortium Meeting #2 (8 July 2016, Beijing, China)

Following the ISSI Beijing Forum, the second SMILE Consortium Meeting was held at the CAS NSSC headquarters, with the participation of mission and payload PIs and Co-Is, ESA and CAS, platform designers, CDF study teams and Supporting Scientists. Main items for discussion were the status of the mission, spacecraft design, ground segment plans and simulations development to better define the payload capability to satisfy scientific requirements.

SMILE Consortium Meeting #3 (14-15 Feb. 2017, ESA ESTeC, The Netherlands)

The third SMILE Consortium Meeting took place at the European Space Technology Centre (ESTeC) in Noordwijk, The Netherlands. We reviewed the progress made over the previous six months in optimising the mission and payload design within spacecraft and launcher resource constraints, had further discussions about orbit and operations, and compared modelling and simulations of the science data that SMILE will return. A group photo of the event is shown here and the programme of the meeting here: scroll down to find the sequential number of the presentations, which are collected here. Ground observers participated in the meeting too, and collaborations with many groups in various countries covering the arctic regions are being set up. Ground observations are of course essential to make the 'final' link with SMILE measurements.

SMILE SST #10 - Consortium Meeting #4 (17-19 Oct. 2017, Leicester, UK)

The fourth SMILE Consortium Meeting, which immediately followed the 10th meeting of the Science Study Team (see below), was held in Leicester, UK, with the very active participation of some 60 attendees comprising scientists and engineers. Two of the presentations were given remotely by Webex, one from Russia and one from the USA (Alaska). We had very vibrant discussions about the science and the instrument requirements, which led to the establishment of four Working Groups aimed at optimising the mission development. The traditional group photo can be seen here and the programme of the meeting here (opens in a new window): scroll down to find the sequential number of the presentations, which are collected here.

SMILE SST #11 - Consortium Meeting #5 (16-18 Apr. 2018, Suzhou, China)

The fifth SMILE Consortium Meeting took place in Suzhou (100 km NW of Shanghai, China). On the first day, dedicated to SST meeting #11, we reviewed progress in the hardware development and checked the consistency of current performance parameters with the mission and instruments science requirements. The remaining two days focussed on presentations relevant to SMILE science. It was an extremely well attended meeting (see the participants photo!), with a high caliber of presentations and discussions (as shown by the busy programme and the collection of presentations). One of the scientific resolutions of the meeting was the formation of a Working Group (SXI Modelling and Observational Strategy, SXI MOS) tasked to coordinate and drive the development of SXI imaging simulations, which will underpin the optimisation of the SXI observing strategy.

SMILE SST #12 - Consortium Meeting #6 (29-31 Oct. 2018, Banff, Canada)

We held the sixth SMILE Consortium Meeting in Banff, Alberta (in the Canadian Rockies: there was already snow on the ground!). The gathering took place in the Banff Park Lodge Resort Hotel and Conference Centre, with participants sharing round tables which facilitated interactions and discussions. This meeting came shortly after the successful close-out of the joint ESA-CAS Mission System Requirements Review, so the participants' mood was very positive, although we realise that much work is still ahead of us! The SST (this was their meeting #12) as usual received reports on the progress of the mission, spacecraft and instruments development, viewed in the context of SMILE's scientific requirements. A good number of very relevant and high quality scientific talks were delivered by members of the SMILE Consortium: they are listed in the meeting programme and collected here, organised according to the morning or afternoon sessions in which they were delivered.

SMILE SST #13 - Consortium Meeting #7 (13-14 May 2019, Xi'an, China)

This gathering saw us back in China, in Xi'an. This was the first capital of China, the start of the Silk Road and is the city famous for the life-like sculptures of Terracotta Warriors built around the 3rd century BC. We had a very enjoyable meeting with plenty of scientific interactions and a very high number of presentations: here is the programme, and the presentations can be accessed here. This was also the time when our Science Study Team (SST) turned into the Science Working Team (SWT), following adoption of the SMILE mission by ESA in March 2019. We managed to fit all presentations and discussions in the first two days so that on the third we could have a fascinating trip to see the Terracotta Warriors and then some of us could visit the Xi'an Satellite Control Center, where SMILE will be commanded and monitored during early operations! And here is a photo of the Consortium members attending the meeting. Another great success!

SMILE SWT #14 - Consortium Meeting #8 (19-20 November 2019, Madrid, Spain)

As usual, for our SWT and Consortium meetings we alternate a venue in the East with one in the West, so this time we met at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) at Villafranca del Castillo, near Madrid, Spain. Here is a photo of the participants in the grounds of the Centre. The meetings spanned over two days, following a day of presentations and discussions of the Modelling Working Group, as it has become customary. There was a very good attendance, with plenty of scientific and technical contributions: see the agenda and the presentations, collected here. And the visit was completed by a most interesting tour of ESAC, including the XMM-Newton control room, demonstration of recent advances in archive handling and visualisation, as well as the display of a collection of heritage computing equipment!

SMILE SWT #15 - Consortium Meeting #9 (18-19 March 2020, China-Iceland Joint Auroral Observatory, Karholl, Iceland) - REPLACED BY TELECONS

Unfortunately we had to replace this SWT and Consortium meeting with an online version by Webex because of the spreading of Covid-19 and consequent travel restrictions. Despite these difficulties the meeting went very well with the online participation of about 100 people on the first day and some 60 on the second. The SWT and Consortium meeting programme lists all the presentations which can be accessed here using ESA COSMOS account credentials.

SMILE SWT #16 - Consortium Meeting #10 (27-29 October 2020) - REPLACED BY TELECONS

Once again we had to replace the face-to-face meeting (which we had planned to be in Canada this time) with an online version. Participation was again very high (~80 people) and the contributions led as usual to much discussion. The agenda of the meeting, including also that of the Modelling WG on the first day, can be found here and the presentations can be accessed here using ESA COSMOS account credentials.

SMILE SWT #17 - Consortium Meeting #11 (13-16 April 2021) - REPLACED BY TELECONS

This time we had to replace the planned visit to Kunming, capital of the Yunnan province of China, which we were all looking forward to, with an online gathering. The agenda includes the presentations of the Modelling WG on the first day and those of the Data Formats and Calibration WG on the last. The presentations can be accessed at the ESA COSMOS website.

SMILE SWT #18 - Consortium Meeting #12 (12-15 October 2021) - ONLINE

The presentations can be accessed at the ESA COSMOS website.

SMILE SWT #19 - Consortium Meeting #13 (10-13 May 2022) - ONLINE

SMILE Science Study Team, now renamed SMILE Science Working Team

The SMILE Science Study Team (SST) met every few months since the mission was chosen for the initial study phase, normally at ESA ESTeC with teleconference participation from China. Since the end of 2017 the SST has been meeting in conjunction with the SMILE Consortium meetings. Following SMILE Adoption in 2019 the SST has been renamed the SMILE Science Working Team or SWT. The SWT executive team includes the mission Co-PIs, payload PIs, the ESA Project Scientist and Project Manager, as well as the CAS Project Manager. Participation to the SWT meetings joint with Consortium meetings is open to instrument Co-Is and developers, ESA and CAS scientists, engineers and managers, and the scientific community with an interest in SMILE. One of the main tasks of the SWT is to develop and maintain the SMILE Science Requirement Document, which describes the mission science objectives and science requirements, and to ensure that the derived performance requirements for the payload will deliver the science expected from SMILE.

SMILE Science Advisory Panel (SAP)

The establishment of the SMILE Science Advisory Panel (SAP) has been promoted by the UK Space Agency (UKSA) in order to enable the provision of expert advice on issues relevant to the development of the SMILE mission and in particular of the Soft X-ray Imager, which constitutes the main UK hardware responsibility in the mission. The SAP also acts as a forum for monitoring the SXI development in order to achieve its science requirements, and advises the project when issues relating to the instrument performance arise, as well as on planned operations and data products.

In addition, the SAP is expected to provide expert advice on how to exploit the full complement of the SMILE payload in order to enable ground-breaking science to be carried out; to advise on key science open questions that could be tackled with SXI data and SMILE as a whole, and raise topical issues that may not have received adequate attention; to suggest public engagement opportunities generated by SMILE and the SXI in particular, and help to scope and develop a SMILE Benefits Management framework. The SAP is expected to provide reports and recommendations to the SMILE mission Co-PI, the SXI PI and the UKSA Project Management Board.

The SAP had its kick-off meeting on 3rd October 2019 at the Swindon UKSA headquarters, and plans to meet every few months in future. Presentations given at this first meeting are collected here.

The second meeting of the SAP was held on 27th November 2020, online because of Covid-19 restrictions. The agenda and presentations can be found at the same website as for the first meeting.

SMILE SXI Team Meeting, UCL - MSSL, UK (13-14 June 2018)

A SMILE SXI Team Meeting took place at MSSL on 13-14 June 2018. Presentations and splinter meetings were very informative (the meeting schedule is here and the presentations here) and participants had very useful exchanges of ideas, facilitated by the fact of meeting up face to face. See smiling faces and waving hands from the MSSL terrace!