Space Hazards Induced Near Earth by Large Dynamic Storms

  • Space Hazards Induced Near Earth by Large Dynamic Storms
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  • Space Hazards Induced Near Earth by Large Dynamic Storms (SHIELDS)

    Understanding, Modeling and Predicting

    Our society is increasingly dependent on technologies susceptible to harmful conditions in space; e.g., Galaxy 15, a $250M telecommunication satellite in geosynchronous orbit, failed to operate in 2010 due to a space storm, and its recovery operation cost about $3.5M. Predicting space weather hazards remains a big space physics challenge due to the complex multi-scale nature of the magnetosphere. SHIELDS (Space Hazards Induced Near Earth by Large Dynamic Storms) addresses this challenge.

    What we are doing...

    • We are addressing this challenge using a cross-Laboratory team, LANL state-of-the-art models, computational facilities and data from national security payloads.
    • We are developing an end-to-end model of the magnetosphere driven by the dynamic solar wind that can predict one of the most harmful space weather hazards, the spacecraft surface charging environment (SCE) and assist spacecraft design and hazard mitigation.

    The primary SCE source is the low-energy (10s of keV) hot plasma injected from the magnetotail into the inner magnetosphere during substorms (magnetospheric reconfiguration events). Our SHIELDS framework specifies the dynamics of the hot particles (the seed population for the radiation belts) on both macro- and micro-scale, including substorms and plasma waves that accelerate particles to relativistic energies.

    New data assimilation techniques employing data from LANL instruments on Van Allen Probes and geosynchronous satellites are being applied for the first time to the global model. This research provides a framework for understanding the near-Earth space environment where operational satellites reside. The ability to reliably distinguish between various modes of failure is critically important in anomaly resolution and forensics.

    SHIELDS strengthens the Laboratory's role in Space Weather programs, an emerging area of critical importance to LANL’s Global Security Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and Energy Security missions.

    SHIELDS Predicting Hazards That Result From Solar Storms

    The framework

    Framework Body Side Image   420x275


    The framework bridges macro- and micro-scale models, combined with data assimilation tools that:

    • Capture rapid particle injection and acceleration during storms/substorms
    • Include plasma wave generation and their feedback on the particles


    This unique space weather model:

    • Positions LANL as a world leader in Space Situational Awareness (SSA) and forensic analysis of space system failures
    • Advances the science-based understanding needed for the analysis and interpretation of LANL data from past and current missions (GEO, RBSP)
    • Advances LANL design capabilities for space-based instrumentation for national security missions
    • Brings Intelligence and Space Research, Computer, Computational, and Statistical
    • Sciences and Theoretical Divisions together to work to support the Laboratory's mission of ensuring national safety and security
    • Grows the space weather area; builds strategic partnerships with other agencies (DOD, NOAA, NASA, NSF, FAA), institutions (Aerospace, universities), and commercial customers (satellite operators, etc.)

    Research Areas

    Reliably distinguishing between various modes of failure is critically important in anomaly resolution and forensics.

    Currently researching:

    • Substorm dynamics in global simulations
    • Coupling of BATS-R-US with iPIC3D
    • Data assimilation
    • Wave-Particle interactions
    • Development and testing of the SHIELDS framework
    • Development and integration of Curvilinear Particle-In-Cell (CPIC) code



    Headshot of Vania Jordanova

    Vania Jordanova

    Project Leader

    Headshot of Gábor Tóth

    Gábor Tóth

    University of Michigan

    Headshot of Mike Henderson

    Mike Henderson

    Space Science and Applications

    Headshot of Gian Luca Delzanno

    Gian Luca Delzanno

    Applied Mathematics and Plasma Physics

    Headshot of Humberto Godinez

    Humberto Godinez

    Applied Mathematics and Plasma Physics

    Headshot of Louis Vernon

    Louis Vernon

    Applied Computer Science

    Headshot of Chris Jeffery

    Chris Jeffery

    Space and Remote Sensing