Space Weather

Scientists at Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) has been modeling and generating data products on space weather alongside scientists at the Air Force's primary research center, AFRL, for decades. Over the years, our staff has contributed to the development and maintenance of state-of-the-art environmental models to provide space weather specification and prediction. We have also helped advance atmospheric density and composition models; thermosphere/ionosphere interaction; and solar/magnetosphere coupling for use in the next-generation space weather specification. Our knowledge of near-Earth phenomenology and its impact on civilian and defense system provides the necessary information for space operations.

Related projects include:

  • Scintillation Network Decision Aid (SCINDA)
  • Operation Space Environment Display (OpSEND)
  • Modified Atmospheric Density Model (MADM)
  • AF/GEOSpace near-Earth space environment modeling and visualization suite
  • Space Environment and Effect Tool for AGI's Systems Tool Kit (STK/SEET)
  • AE9/AP9 next generation radiation belt model

Communication and navigation outage forecasting for the Air Force

AER scientists have contributed to leading-edge advances in these growing fields. For example, we are directly involved in the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Space Vehicles Directorate’s Communication/Navigation Outage Forecasting System (C/NOFS), which is being developed to demonstrate a technique for locating and forecasting scintillations in the low latitude ionosphere. Scintillations are caused by naturally occurring irregularities and lead to fluctuations in communication signals, delayed signal acquisition, and decreased satellite-to-ground message throughput.

Our design, development and ongoing operation of the AFRL C/NOFS Data Center provides Air Force situational awareness, data processing and modeling in support of the next-generation military utility decision aid. Our scientists and engineers have contributed to the development of the ground station software, data processing, and modeling to provide an environmental effects fusion system for impact product generation.

Space weather analysis for spacecraft design and development

What began as an Air Force situational awareness tool for the space weather community has evolved into a tool used during spacecraft design and development, as well as sensor specification definition: Space Environment and Effects Tool for AGI's Systems Tool Kit (STK/SEET). Our modeling support, combined with the implementation of new data sources, has resulted in new forecasting techniques with the capability to identify, model, assess, and predict space weather impacts on not only defense systems, but civilian infrastructure, such as the power grid. These improvements in space weather depiction and phenomenology prediction have provided the evolving space community with the necessary planning information to mitigate system failure.

To learn more about AER's Space Weather expertise, please contact us.