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Space Environmental Index


Elaboration of the Space Environment Activity Index Taking into Account the Actual State of the Ionosphere and Magnetosphere

Tech Area / Field

  • SAT-EXP/Extraterrestrial Exploration/Space, Aircraft and Surface Transportation

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute, Russia, St Petersburg


  • Institut fur Meteorologie, Universitaet Leipzig, Germany, Leipzig\nNational Center for Atmospheric Research / High Altitude Observatory\nUniversity of Alaska Fairbanks / Geophysical Institute, USA, AK, Fairbanks\nBoston College, USA, MA, Boston\nSwedish Institute of Space Physics, Sweden, Uppsala\nNOAA Space Environment Center, USA, CO, Boulder

Project summary

The aim of the project is development of technique for derivation of the index describing the current state of the space environment with allowance for signals from the middle-orbital spacecraft systems GPS (or GLONASS) and magnetic activity.

It is well known that unfavorable Space Weather, related to sharp changes in the particle flow and electromagnetic field in the Earth's environment (magnetosphere), gives rise to malfunctions in the spacecraft systems, violations in the energetic networks, and possible threat to human life. At present the current state of the space environment is usually estimated on the basis of measurements of the solar radio-emissions flows (index F10.7). However the value of F10.7 is set on board of spacecraft in advance as a result of forecast. Just in periods of active and changing Sun, this value is not often in agreement with the actual state of the ionosphere and magnetosphere. Other characteristics, such as observations of solar flare and CME, parameters of the solar wind, measurements of the energetic particle fluxes within the magnetosphere, indices of magnetic activity are not available for prompt estimation of the possible hazards.

The basis of the project is concept that state of the Earth's environment can be controlled by single index making allowance for parameter characterizing the actual state of the ionosphere and magnetosphere. The suggested project proposes on-line production of the space environment state index, analogous to F10.7 index, but calibrated for real ionospheric (total electron concentration) and magnetic (PC index) activity. Realization of the project permits acquisition of additional information on current state of the ionosphere for any owner of two-frequency radio equipment with use of signals from the GPS and GLONASS systems. The information will be accessible in any geographical point, at the moving objects among them, continuously and irrespective of availability of communication or Internet network.

The suggested participants of the project have a good experience in the “Space Weather” researches. Generally accepted index of magnetic activity in the polar cap (PC index) has been put forward and developed in the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. Subsequent analyses showed that the PC index can be used as a proxy for such key parameters characterizing the state of magnetosphere and ionosphere as intensity of auroral electrojet, cross-polar cap potential difference, ionospheric electric field in the polar regions, total joule heating in the ionosphere and others. AARI carries out on-line production of the PC index. Participants of the project from the Mozhaiskii Aerocosmic University (St. Petersburg) accomplished the geophysical guidance for launching of ballistic rockets at the site “Baiconur”. They have made, in particular, the determination of the “ionospheric F10.7 index” by signals from the low-orbital satellite radio-navigation system “Tsycada” (the Russian analogue to SRNS “TRANZIT”) with use of the customer’s regular devices. The developed technique made possible to estimate daily values of “the ionospheric F10.7 index analogue” that differed from the actual F10.7 index by no more than 5% in magneto-quiet periods. Thus, these participants have a good experience in the applied scientific research as well as in satellite measurements and they are familiar with numerical simulation of trans-ionospheric radiowave propagation.

The obtained results are planned as follows:

– database of the GPS signals for different helio- and geo-physical conditions;

– database of PC index;
– method for derivation of the Space Environment Index (SEI), taking into account the actual state of the ionosphere and magnetosphere;
– experimental testing of the method with estimation of its accuracy and prompt service;
– software for derivation of SEI.

Many users are interested in the space weather monitoring, among which are the spacecraft operation service, telecommunication companies, energetic firms, industry and military departments, any other institutions interesting in information on unfavourable factors of the space weather. SE Index may be provided to any user of two-frequency GPS and GLONASS facilities, including the moving platforms. It makes it possible to estimate the space weather in any geographical point without use of the additional means of communication. After completion of this project the provision is made to develop the experimental device for measurement of ground-based Space Environment Index, with including of the corresponding software, in the framework of a new project.

Fulfillment of the project makes possible the reorientation of scientists and specialists engaged in the project on the peaceful use of information about the space weather: monitoring of unfavorable geophysical phenomena with aim to forestall about them all interested customers. The project is planned as international one with a consequent development of the international relations and wide change by data about signals from satellite radio-navigation systems, and, correspondingly, integration of Russian participants in the world scientific community.

The foreign collaborators will help in creating of the corresponding database, take part in discussion and interpretation of the received results, and promote to the wide use the result in the peaceful implementations of the project.


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