Onderzoeksproject PX/8/SS/05 (Onderzoeksactie PX)
‘STEREO’ is a NASA project consisting of 2 identical spacecraft that will observe the Solar corona and heliosphere simultaneously from 2 viewpoints, left and right of the Sun-Earth line. A large, deep space project such as STEREO is a unique opportunity to obtain this kind of data since the Earth’s atmosphere makes it impossible to acquire EUV images, and difficult to make good-quality coronagraphic or heliospheric images from the ground. In Belgium, both the ROB and the ‘Centre Spatial de Liege’ (CSL) are co-investigators in the consortium that builds the SECCHI remote sensing instrument suite.
Each of the two STEREO spacecraft will carry a SECCHI suite and collectively these will produce about 1 Gb of information per day. The combination of SECCHI images from 2 viewpoints will for the first time ever give information on the 3D structure of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and associated phenomena. CMEs are sometimes called the “solar drivers of space weather” and it is thus expected that an enhanced understanding of the 3D structure of CMEs will improve our ability to model the behaviour of the CME as it transits through interplanetary space and to study the detailed interaction of the propagating CME with other bodies that it encounters, such as the earth’s magnetosphere. This, in turn may for example lead to more accurate techniques for space weather forecasting.
The current target launch date is February 2006. Once the commissioning phase ends and both spacecrafts are inserted in their heliocentric orbit, the nominal mission can begin. We expect the routine scientific data flow to start only late in the second half of 2006. The current project proposal (2005-2006) is thus a pre-launch preparation for the scientific data exploitation.
The ‘preparation to data exploitation’ will be targeted simultaneously in 3 work packages running in parellel:
-Development of automated image processing and event recognition
- Determination of the 3D structure of CME related phenomena
-Transitioning from scientific insight to space weather services
Satellite(s) or flight opportunity(ies):
Field of research:
Space Sciences: Solar System: solar and plasma physics