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SUPPORT TO ESA’s SPACE SITUATIONAL AWARENESS (SSA) PROGRAMME – SPACE WEATHER

1    INTRODUCTION

ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) Preparatory Programme was authorized at the ESA Ministerial Council in November 2008 and formally launched on 1 January 2009. After an initial three-year period to 2011, full operational services will be implemented in 2012-19 upon approval.

The purpose of the SSA programme is to provide Europe and its citizens complete and accurate information on objects orbiting Earth, on the space environment and on threats coming from space. Thus the SSA activities comprise three major columns:

1)      Space Surveillance and Tracking – SST (monitoring of artificial objects in space, e.g. space debris that may endanger other spacecraft)

2)      Space Weather – SWE (strong space weather events may endanger spacecraft and infrastructure on ground)

3)      Near-Earth Objects – NEO (monitoring of natural objects in space, e.g. asteroids, that may endanger the Earth)

The SSA Space Weather activities are composed of two major topics:

I)       Space Weather Precursor Services

II)     Space Weather Instruments

The Space Weather Precursor Services collect available space weather services, so-called assets, install them at the SSA Space Weather Data Centre (SWE DC) in Redu, Belgium, run them there operationally and provide a platform for users to access these services. Initially the Space Weather Precursor Services will be based on assets already existing today. In follow-up steps, new assets, which are currently not yet end-to-end applicable or which have still to be established, will be included into the precursor service.

ESOC’s IONosphere MONitoring Facility (IONMON) has been identified as one of the already existing assets for the SSA Space Weather Precursor Services. For delivery to the SWE DC, a LINUX version of the IONMON was prepared. This LINUX version was successfully installed and tested in Redu. Since May 2012, every morning RINEX and orbit data are automatically delivered from the ESOC Navigation Support Office to the SWE DC on routine basis for the operation of IONMON Version 1 at Redu. In future, a sub-daily delivery of input data might be envisaged.