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SOLSPANET Report Summary

Project ID: 269299
Funded under: FP7-PEOPLE
Country: Belgium

Final Report Summary - SOLSPANET (Solar and Space Weather Network of Excellence)

The actual implementation of the project naturally depended on many real-life-born and research processes related circumstances that required appropriate adaption of the work program and, in some cases, even certain amendments at different levels were necessary during the realization of the project.

We start with a summary of the general project objectives. Apart from the particular investigation related objectives (outlined in detail in the work program), we recover here the more general conceptual structure of the actual subject of the SOLSPANET scientific network. An ultimate objective of the project was the development of an operating research network on solar and space weather that should represent a prototype of the space weather service into which the network can be transformed into in the future (Development of such services in agreement of the overall EU policy on the realization of the European space weather awareness system led by the European Space Agency). This ultimate objective was supported by the fundamental project components that represent the three main pillars of the project plan:

1) Organizational component – this part of the work implied the initiation and development of the network via acquirement of the different types of expertise and resources available from the members of the consortium under the unified research streamline using the combined analytical and numerical skills, on the one hand, and white light, Extreme Ultra Violet (EUV), decameter radio and very low frequency techniques of the observations, on the other hand, to provide a better understanding of the dynamical processes representing solar and space weather events. Such a combination of different techniques requires a certain organizational provision of the proper mechanisms for transfer of expertise. Setting up the organizational context was one of the main aspects of the work program and the successful implementation of that part led to the establishment of a network of cooperation. The research staffs of the different member groups have been acquainted to each other and a fundamentally novel research environment has been created. Some teams even started up joint PhD projects that led/will lead to double PhDs. The perspective of long-term cooperation has emerged and many projects were initiated at both national and EU level. For example, the two proposals that were recently submitted to Horizon 2020 calls (FET and ITN) coordinated by KU Leuven in cooperation with world class international consortia.

2) Educational component – The second conceptual part of the objectives comprised the realization of the education related activities especially for the early stage researchers participating in the project. The provision of proper mechanisms for knowledge transfer represented another groundbreaking part of the network as it enabled a combined educational framework for the exchanged research staff of the consortium and these efforts increased the level of training, professional and soft skills of both the ESRs and the more experienced staff. This component included a significant number of the secondments of the ESRs mainly from non-EU member institutes to the EU teams. This mobility of the young research staff provided the possibility of knowledge transfer from (and to) the senior academic and research staff of the respective EU host research centers. The first half of the project was spent on the development of the basic skills needed for the data analysis and theoretical investigations among ESRs and we achieved a significant progress in this. It should be also noted that the first 24 months of the project revealed the major topics, covered by the lectures, yielded advanced skills and abilities to the ESRs regarding space and solar weather data processing and the transformation into publicly useful knowledge. The implementation of this part of the work plan contributed substantially to the development of the excellent educational environment for the ESRs. Many young researchers involved in the research staff exchange scheme have been engaged into a systematic international cooperation at a very early stage of their scientific career. We have members from different teams in their supervising committee and they got the opportunity to present their intermediate results to a much wider and international forum.

3) Research component – We underline one important aspect of the implementation of the R&D type activities in the project. The three reporting periods of the project were set not just as a formal division of the project time span, but they represented three conceptual epochs of the project implementation:

a) The preparatory period - Groundbreaking efforts mainly in the organizational and educational contexts implying realization of the combined efforts in the consortium to achieve results outlined in the above two points. Therefore, the major part of the efforts were directed to the organization of the unified working environment and educational space for the different member groups. In the context of the R&D measures the performed work also can be ascribed to the category of the preparatory efforts as in analytical part of the investigations this period was spent to develop of background analytical and numerical models which should have become an integral part of the monitoring and forecasting system in the future, the observational data management also mainly was dominated by the collection of the large data sets (creation of catalogs) of different formats coming from the different types of instruments and online sources (as was described in the list of deliverables). The key components of the collected data are from space based observations, decameter wavelength and very low frequency radio observations. The initial measures were taken to develop basic tools for the transformation of the collected data into publicly useful information. The partially analyzed data became publicly available on the project web site

b) The period of R&D breakthroughs – During the second reporting period we changed the order of our priorities. The achievement of the main breakthroughs in the R&D part became the dominating part of the work plan as we have developed solar and space weather monitoring and forecasting tools within the framework of the unified knowledge base, as it was initially envisaged in the work program. The planned set of deliverables has been attained, based on the results achieved during the first part of the project and the data catalogs being already at the disposal of the project consortium. The achieved public and socio-economic impacts are in line with the strategy of the ESA space weather awareness system development that, in turn, is in agreement with the general EU policy on the protection of the public assets and life/technological systems from the environmental or other kind of hazardous impacts.

c) The third reporting period was created as an amendment to the initial secondment plan and played a role for the consolidation of the results of the project in the unified framework of knowledge and expertise.
The efforts included the completion of all deliverables, The scientific achievements landed during the final stage of the project completed the all the directions of the solar and space weather investigations implemented according to the WPs outlined in the work program. The overall report on the WP implementation will be given below in the final report.
Here we just highlight only those innovative studies that were carried out within the final reporting period:
(i) Data analysis -- We have made a set of successful data analysis campaigns related to both optical and radio observations. The majority of these results are already published in the high impact factor international journals. Some of them are currently under consideration/review and will be published in the nearby future. The overall breakthrough in this context is that based on the developed set of data analysis models that led us tothe introduction of the configurational and behavioral patterns enabling the characterization and classification of the solar and space weather events into the onthologies and pattern libraries. This latter perspective for the future projects have emerged and will be used in the complimentary studies in other anticipated or forthcoming projects. This kind of infrastructure would include not only the patterned astronomical data but also, for instance, that related to experimental studies for instance on the influence of the Geomagnetic disturbances on the living organisms etc.
(ii) Analytical Modelling -- Our analytical modeling team is also very strong and we have published several sound results in this respect as well. These are also included in the list of publications. All these models are tightly linked with our data analysis models and the notion of the patterns mentioned in the previous point.
(iii) Numerical studies -- The tasks related to the numerical modeling have been also completed and in many cases it was even possible to develop a combined theoretical and data model for the space weather events as spatial-temporal or behavioral patterns.
(iv) Software infrastructure -- The core and the main architectural components of the knowledge base that was created is publicly accessible via the project website.

In conclusion, the overall achievement of the project can be stated in one sentence as follows: the objectives and deliverables stated in the work program have been accomplished (taking into account some improvements and optimization of some of the tasks during the course of the project) and several new dimensions of the foreseen research have emerged that provide a solid ground for the development of several new project proposals within the Horizon 2020 framework.

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