Solar activity can trigger sporadic bursts of energetic particles and increase the number of high energy (MeV) particles trapped inside the Earth’s radiation belts. These high energy particles cause damage to satellites and are a hazard for manned spaceflight and aviation. They are difficult to predict due to uncertainties over the basic physical processes, and the need to access reliable data in real time. European space policy is committed to the Galileo radionavigation system consisting of 30 satellites, the use of space assets to protect the security of its citizens (GMES), and a strong and competitive space industry. It is therefore imperative that Europe develops the means to protect these space assets from all forms of space weather hazards, and especially now as solar activity will increase to a maximum over the next few years and will increase the hazard risk. This proposal will draw together European and international partners to increase knowledge, reduce uncertainty, and to develop a forecasting capability. We will undertake targeted studies of particle source, transport, acceleration and loss processes in the Earth’s radiation belts to improve understanding of how they respond to solar activity. We will transform research models into space weather models to forecast the radiation belts in near real time, and provide alerts for periods of high risk to stakeholders. We will test models of how solar energetic particles are accelerated by shocks in the solar wind, and are transported through the interplanetary medium, in order to improve engineering tools for predicting the intensity and fluence of solar energetic particle events. We will develop a stakeholder community for valuable feedback and deliver the results in a form accessible to the public. The project will deliver a space weather forecasting capability that will continue beyond the lifetime of the project and which will lay the foundation for an operational system.
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