Space Weather Week Activity in 2011

The 8th European Space Weatheri Week (ESWW) was held from 28 November-2 December, 2011 at the Palais des Congres, Namur, Belgium.

A presentation on behalf of the SWWT Topical Group on Spacecraft, Aircraft and Launcher Environments entitled Effects of Space Weatheri on Space Systems was made by S. McKenna-Lawlor on the morning of 28 November, 2011.

The annual meeting of the Topical Group took place on 1 December, 2011 from 16.30-18.30 local timei.

The agenda was as follows:
Chair: S. McKenna-Lawlor (STIL)
Co.Chair: F. di Marco (ESAi)
Co.Chair: G. Reitz (DLR)

  1. Welcome/Introduction (SMcKL)
  2. Overview of Group Activities (SMcKL)
  3. Progress in the field of spacecraft and launcher environments (F. diMarco)
  4. Status of radiation dosimetry on the ISS (G. Reitz)
  5. Overview of ESAi activities in the area of Space Situational Awareness (A. Hilgers)
  6. ESAi news and views (H. Evans)
  7. Invitation to input on topics covered in a Topical Group paper under preparation by the Executive for ESA’s Space Bulletin
  8. AOB

Overview of the presentations

SMcKenna-Lawlor provided an overview of the activities carried out by the group during 2011 (including an account of publications and reports).


  1. Overview of energetic particle hazards during prospective manned missions to Mars, S. McKenna-Lawlor, P. Gonçalves, A. Keating, G. Reitz and D. Matthiä. Planetary and Space Science (doi:10.1016/j.pss.2011.06.017), 2011.
    SMcKL, G. Reitz with others calculated the particle radiation environment en route to and at Mars using the MEREM, Creme 2009 and HZETRN models. The threat of occurrence of a hard spectrum SEP during Cruise-Phase transfers (400d) to/from Mars, combined with the associated cumulative effect of prolonged GCR exposure, poses an as yet unsolved hazard to prospective spacecraft personnel.
  2. Characterization of the particle radiation environment at three potential landing sites on Mars using ESA’s MEREM models, S. McKenna-Lawlor,P. Gonçalves, A. Keating, B.Morgado, D. Heynderickx, P. Nieminen, G. Santin, P. P. Truscott, F. Lei, B. Foing, J. Balaz, Icarus (doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2011.04.004). 2011.
    SMcKL with others utilized ESA’s MEREM models for the first time within the scientific community to calculate the particle radiation environment on the Martian surface. The results are in reasonable agreement with those obtained using NASA’s HZETRN model.


Report to the SWWT Steering Committee on 29 June, 2011 on behalf of the Topical Group Spacecraft, Aircraft and Launcher Environments (SMcKenna-Lawlor).

Report to the SWWT Steering Committee on 25 November, 2011 on behalf of the Topical Group Spacecraft, Aircraft and Launcher Environments (SMcKenna-Lawlor).

Attention was drawn to the website recently installed on the European Space Weatheri Portal which will facilitate ongoing interactions between members during the coming year.

This was noted to contain updating sections that include, with TG matters:

  • Relevant ESAi News
  • Relevant EU News
  • Inputs from the Community

A technical paper is being prepared by the Executive members (S. McKLawlor, G.Reitz. and F Di Marco) for the ESAi Bulletin which will provide a state of the art overview of:

Space Weatheri user requirements for: Launch Service, Trans-Polar Flight and Human Space Flight Providers and Spacecraft Operators.

An offer to contribute to this paper was since received from H. Alexander of Spacecraft Environments and Protection. Space Manpower, QinetiQ Ltd.

Other inputs/suggestions for topics are requested and may be sent to

F di Marco provided an account of various anomalies (SEEs) recently recorded aboard ESAi spacecraft including MEX, VEX and Clusteri and how these are interpreted. He spoke in particular about degradation displayed by similar chips flown aboard the Herschel and Planck missions and outlined several possible explanations for this behaviour, having regard to differences between where these chips are mounted on their respective spacecraft.

He requested that experts among the Topical Group would consider the problem and contact him with regard to the possible role of the highly directional solar windii in producing the observed degradation. He noted that a relevant factor might be that the response of the sensors to electromagnetic radiation had been investigated pre-launch using the “flooded beams” technique which covers the entire active area of the chip involved whereas, in practice, in space, only part of each chip was illuminated due to mounting geometries.

This input provided an opportunity for a technical dialogue between the topical group and ESAi engineers to be carried out on this, unexpected. ongoing problem.

G. Reitz provided an account of various dosimeters flown by European, Russian and Japanese participants aboard the ISS and compared the capabilities of these individual monitors. He then outlined the data products the monitors provide which include:

  • Particle count rates
  • Absorbed dose
  • LET spectra
  • Neutron spectra and
  • Heavy ion charge and energy spectra.

Also he introduced the Matroska (or human phantom) and described the transformation of its measured depth dose distributions to the doses that could be experienced within a wide range of human organs.

Alain Hilgers spoke about the future progress of ESA’s Space Situational Awareness program. He noted in particular that the topical group should keep in mind that ESAi is considering the possibility of expanding its program of in-orbit validation opportunities. In this context, flights for European instruments that cover a wide range of types are foreseen and the short list for candidate host s/c is expected to include a multiplicity of missions planned for the period 2014–2020.

Hugh Evans presented a comprehensive overview of the status of ESAi missions presently in space with special regard to various recent mission extensions. He outlined how the selection of future candidate missions will be carried out and referred to the particularly challenging radiation environment that any s/c selected to fly to Jupiter’s icy satellites should be equipped to survive.

Professional level tutorials

At the wrap-up, interest was expressed by the group in the possibility of having a dedicated program of tutorials at a professional level mounted during SWW-2012. Possible topics could include: Radiation hazards aboard aircraft and in space; Acceptable launch conditions, Planetary protection issues etc

Members of the group should inform the executive via the group website of topics they would consider it particularly useful to have covered by such tutorials.