Space Weather Monitoring for Mission Operations
|Sun-earth image courtesy of the Heliophysics Division, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
We are currently expanding our resources for monitoring space weather by building new tools for console operations.
We would like to work with ALL those who have radiation instruments slated for satellites / probes / rovers that may
be useful to space weather monitoring and/or modeling, and begin a working relationship of useful data to incorporate
into our manned space flight operational community. If you have a data set or product
that may be of use, please contact SRAG.
As part of the agency's ongoing commitment to safe space transportation, NASA has adopted the recommendations that the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP) presented in its Report 98, "Guidance on Radiation Received in Space Activities" (July, 1989) as the basis for the standards applied to spaceflight crew radiation exposures. To fulfill our responsibilities of radiation protection, the Space Radiation Analysis Group (SRAG) provides the following:
SOHO-EIT image - courtesy of the SOHO
Extreme Ultraviolet Imager team,
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
- Monitoring of space weather
- Space radiation environment contingency response and analysis
- Radiation instrument operations to characterize and quantify the radiation environment inside and outside the spacecraft
- Tracking of crew daily and cumulative dose
- Comprehensive crew exposure modeling capability
- EVA planning, support and monitoring (Pre-flight and extra-vehicular activity (EVA) crew exposure projections, in flight EVA dose monitoring)
- Interfacing with support groups (Mission Planners; flight controllers, directors and surgeons; NOAA; DOD)
- Updates mission planners, flight controllers, flight directors and flight surgeons on mission significant radiation events
- Evaluation of radiological safety with respect to exposure to isotopes and radiation producing equipment carried on the spacecraft
Plot of satellite and ground-based proton data - courtesy
of the Space Environmental Center of NOAA, Boulder, CO.
Current Weather Monitoring
In addition to the instruments
onboard the ISS and Shuttle that were designed specifically for crew exposure monitoring during mission operations, SRAG utilizes instruments aboard satellites such as GOES, SOHO and ACE for real-time situational monitoring of the space radiation environment. A list of missions that we are currently using on console can be found on our Mission Instrument web page
. Select data streams are telemetered through the Space Weather Beacon and are utilized for real-time situational monitoring of the space weather environment (dynamic plots - link under construction
Future Needs and Goals
Long duration exploratory class missions will not benefit from the protection from Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR) and energetic solar flare protons afforded by the Earth's geomagnetic field. Future expeditions into interplanetary space will place crews at increased risk of exposure compared to the current short duration low-Earth orbit (LEO) missions. As exploration takes on a new dimension and moves to the Moon, Mars and beyond, monitoring requirements must necessarily expand.
SRAG concept of forecasting and tracking tool for predicting
connectivity and progression of Solar Energetic Particles
- Space Radiation Analysis Group, NASA Johnson Space Center
The lifetime of current missions is requiring that we look into alternate data sources for tools that we rely on today. We are therefore expanding our current resources to continue improving the success and safety of manned space flight. As we venture to the moon, Mars and beyond we will need additional data sources, measurements and models outside of the Earth's magnetic influence. We are therefore looking for new data streams from existing and future missions
to keep our radiation protection efforts up to date, and we are working with others to develop forecasting tools (link under construction)
that may give us anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours lead time (depending on the type of event). With this in mind, a few highlights of our needs are the following:
- Free-space/near-Earth measurements or reliable models of higher-energy (~100-1000MeV) proton/ion spectra.
- ACE type data/models on mission termination.
- Be able to predict magnitude / duration / characteristics of SPE from information received at onset of event
- Corollary: model predictions for 'all-clear' at onset for small events and/or 'all-clear' forecasting for n day in advance with <~5% probability of particle activity.
- Improved model correlations/precursors of activity, e.g. electron signatures.
- Back-side solar imaging/modeling enabling region characterization.
- Better comparison of instrument readings onboard Shuttle/Station with models transporting simulated or past events through heliosphere / magnetosphere / vehicle and into onboard detectors.
- Model interpretations allowing correction of GOES particle data to near free-space values.
If you have a data set or product that may be of use please contact SRAG.