Press release archive: 2015

New realtime solutions for reducing space weather risks for satellites

26.5.2015 8:18

Researchers of the Finnish Meteorological Institute have reported significant steps forward in the modeling of magnetospheric particles hazardous to satellites. The IMPTAM model helps to evaluate realtime charging risks for satellites.

IMPTAM plasma simulation

IMPTAM plasma simulation

Researchers of the Finnish Meteorological Institute have reported significant steps forward in the modeling of magnetospheric particles hazardous to satellites. The IMPTAM model helps to evaluate realtime charging risks for satellites.

A new, improved model for radiation belt electrons has been created as part of the international SPACESTORM project. SPACESTORM is an EU funded three-year project that provides real-time measurements and modeling results of space environment for the satellite operators and enables evaluating space weather risks for satellites at geostationary and medium Earth orbits. The project combines research teams from France, UK, Belgium and Finland and connects them with stakeholders such as satellite operators and designers from even wider range of nationalities and countries.

The Finnish IMPTAM is a unique physical simulation model that produces real-time fluxes of low-energy electrons throughout the radiation belt region. These electrons have a direct effect on the accumulation of electric charging at the spacecraft's surface. Surface charging in space equipment is often intensified during space storms and can cause shortcuts in the circuitry and even a loss of a satellite. "The Finnish contribution is extremely vital to the success of the whole project", says researcher Natalia Ganushkina from the Finnish Meteorological Institute.

FMI's scientists reported on the significant improvements that have been achieved in the modeling by IMPTAM during the first year of the project, including the implementation of latest plasma wave results in the electron loss processes in the model; this new implementation alone greatly increases the reliability of the model results. Furthermore, real-time geomagnetic measurements will soon be used in additional ways as modeling inputs.

An important facet of IMPTAM's role is that it can provide information of the charge-inducing electrons for any satellites within the radiation belts. "It is very exciting to have a key role in a science project that directly benefits both satellite operators and designers – one of our stakeholders is actually a representative of an insurance company dealing with satellite insurances", researcher Ilkka Sillanpää highlights.

Further information

Natalia Ganushkina, PhD, FMI, natalia.ganushkina@fmi.fi

Ilkka Sillanpää, PhD, FMI, tel. +358-50 408 9024, ilkka.sillanpaa@fmi.fi