A Royal Astronomical Society Specialist Discussion Meeting organised by *Professor Richard A. Harrison, STFC, Dr Jackie A Davies, STFC and Dr Jonny Rae (MSSL)
Image credit: ESA.
The UK has a world-class heliophysics programme in terms of both research and the underpinning instrumentation; this is illustrated by scientific missions such as SOHO, Cluster, STEREO and Solar Orbiter. Investment in these missions has resulted in major advances in our understanding of the physics of our solar system. This experience is crucial for understanding the “space weather” effects of solar-generated activity on human technology and health. Since the UK Government placed extreme space weather on the Risk Register of Civil Emergencies in 2011, the UK has been at the forefront of endeavours to develop an effective approach to space weather mitigation. This includes: establishment of the Space Environment Impact Expert Group to advise Government; formation of the UK Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre; engagement with ESA’s SSA Space Weather programme. The aim of the latter is to launch an operational space weather monitoring mission to the L5 Lagrange point, in conjunction with a US mission to L1. To this end, Phase A/B1 studies of the L5 spacecraft and payload are underway. Both the remote-sensing and in-situ instrument package studies (and one of the parallel system studies) are being led by the UK. It is, hence, timely to assess how best to coordinate the complementary research and operational aspects of the UK’s heliophysics programme. This discussion meeting is aimed at the transitioning of research and instrumental expertise acquired from our recent and on-going space science missions into operational space weather capabilities.
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