The goal of this session is to provide an opportunity to discuss the scientific research that underpins space weather and how a new generation of operational space weather measurements could best be utilised to further progress our understanding. Specific topics are likely to include 1) gaps in our understanding of space weather and how to resolve them, 2) new space and ground-based data that are needed, 3) new science that can be carried out with the operational space weather measurements being planned today.
This session is motivated by the fact that the UK has a strong heritage in the science of the coupled Sun-Earth system, from both an observational and theoretical perspective. This research is increasingly being applied to the area of space weather monitoring and forecasting. Space weather is now nationally recognised as an important natural hazard for the UK (ranked fourth highest in the National Risk Register) and the subsequent opening of the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre in 2014.
Up until now, both the research and the space weather monitoring and forecasting have utilised mainly data from instrumentation (both space- and ground-based) designed to answer pertinent scientific questions, though some other operational instruments (e.g. the X-ray and particle detectors on NOAA’s GOES spacecraft) are also widely exploited for scientific use. However, there is now growing interest in deploying more instruments, in space and on the ground, designed to support operational space weather services. For example, recently a UK mission concept has been developed to place such a monitor at the Lagrange point which trails in the Earth in its orbit around the Sun (the L5 point) and make a variety of remote sensing and in situ measurements (photospheric magnetic field, coronagraph, heliospheric imager, in-situ plasma sensor, high energy particle detector and magnetometer). Such operational measurements can facilitate new science, as demonstrated by the extensive research use of GOES data, but it is important that the limitations imposed by operational needs are discussed.