Why Space Weather research?

Several modern technological infrastructures send radio signals through the upper atmosphere, and the physical characteristics in the ionosphere and thermosphere affect them considerably. The ionosphere and thermosphere follow a daily and seasonal rhythm as a result of the Space Climate. But when severe Space Weather occurs, they can suddenly be drastically perturbed.

This can cause the failure of telecommunication systems that use satellites, degradation of the quality of data from synthetic aperture radars, and degradation of data from earth observation satellites and low frequency radio telescopes. Furthermore, the induced scintillation of radio waves can perturb GNSS satellite navigation (GPS, Galileo, Glonass, Beidoo). This will affect all systems relying on navigation integrity, such as aviation, transportation, precision agriculture, surface mining, survey, air traffic and SBAS, marine applications and unmanned vehicles.

Strong solar radiation or partial emissions can damage satellites and present a radiation exposure hazard to astronauts on space missions, but also to the crew and passengers of commercial airlines. Solar X-ray flares cause heavy absorption of radio waves in the ionosphere, disrupting military and humanitarian communications and shortwave broadcasting. Expansion of the atmosphere due to heating can cause satellite drag and loss.

Space weather can disturb the geomagnetic field, which can induce extreme currents in overland power lines and transport pipe structures at higher latitudes, causing them to malfunction. The estimated costs of Space Weather events are estimated at several billions or euros in Europe alone. A report detailing the social-economic impact can be found here.

Research helps us to better understand the physical processes of the space weather and the related risks, and possibly predict their onset so that preventive or mitigation measures can be taken. PITHIA-NRF services can significantly contribute to the prediction of these effects and thus, support the design of technologies that mitigate these effects – by providing improved access to the datasets that they require.





For questions, please contact outreach@pithia-nrf.eu