Space is a dangerous place, especially when it comes to high-energy particles, and intense solar activity could pose a threat to people and technology on Earth. To address the potential risks, NASA provided five years of funding for Project CLEAR, which is the CLEAR program Space climate Prediction Center at the University of Michigan.
the sun Nothing but calm. Its surface boils at a temperature of more than 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit (5500 degrees Celsius), with complex electric and magnetic fields twisting, turning, and diving in and out of the depths. This complex relationship between the Sun’s extremely hot plasma and its magnetic fields creates the conditions for solar storms. These events – incl Torchesexplosions and Coronal mass ejection – Releasing huge amounts of energy into the solar system.
Sometimes the releases take the form of pure radiation. Sometimes entire clumps of solar matter are released from the surface, slowly moving toward the planets. But every so often, the Sun unleashes storms of small charged particles known as solar energetic particles (SEPs) — Electrons And Protons Traveling in approx The speed of light.
Related: The Sun releases a powerful X-class solar flare, causing a radio blackout on Earth (video)
SEPs can really pack a punch. During periods of intense solar activity, SEPs can collide Land, overwhelming its magnetic field, and even penetrating the atmosphere, raining deadly radiation on the surface. Anything in space is particularly vulnerable. Electronics can get scrambledThe sensors may be damaged.
One powerful event can overtake Lifetime radiation dose to astronauts. In fact, radiation damage is one of the biggest barriers to long-term space travel, as SEPs can damage DNA and lead to cancer – a problem we have to solve if we want normal humans. Missions to Mars And beyond.
The incredible speed of SEPs allows them to reach Earth’s orbit in minutes, which means we have little warning when a SEP storm is about to arrive. Recognizing the seriousness of the problem, NASA recently awarded a team of researchers at the University of Michigan a five-year grant to build the satellite. CLEAR Center of Excellence for Space Weatherwhich will focus on providing accurate and timely space weather forecasts to warn of September storm events.
The CLEAR Center will bring together astronomers and astrophysicists from a wide range of disciplines, from observers to theorists, to address the problem of SEP prediction. They will use theoretical models of the solar surface to predict when solar flares and coronal mass ejections, which trigger SEPs, are likely to erupt.
There are currently 36 models used by different groups. Some of them, based entirely on known physics, are very accurate but expensive to operate – especially in real time, when every minute counts. Therefore, even if we could detect a coronal mass ejection, we would have enough time to predict the intensity of the SEP storm by the time it reaches Earth.
The other approach is to use the characteristics of past storm events to predict when a new storm will occur. These machine learning techniques are much faster, because they use simple algorithms to determine whether suitable conditions arise on the surface of the Sun. But they are currently less accurate and less reliable, since the algorithms don’t “know” the underlying physics; They are just trying to match observed conditions to the probability of a September storm outbreak.
Through CLEAR, space weather forecasters hope to combine these two approaches. The goal is to build faster, more efficient physics-based models and use them to enhance history-based models, creating an efficient pipeline that can use real-time data from the Sun to provide fast and accurate predictions of SEP storm events. NASA can then broadcast these forecasts to warn satellite operators and human spaceflight missions about the impending threat, thus helping all space activities mitigate damage from these storms.