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Water mission takes on space weather

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24/03/2021
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For properly over a decade, ESA’s SMOS satellite tv for pc has been delivering a wealth of information to map moisture in soil and salt within the floor waters of the oceans for a greater understanding of the processes driving the water cycle. Whereas addressing key scientific questions, this distinctive Earth Explorer has repeatedly surpassed expectations by returning a variety of sudden outcomes, usually resulting in sensible purposes that enhance on a regular basis life. Including to SMOS’ record of abilities, new findings present that what was thought-about noise within the mission’s information can really be used to observe photo voltaic exercise and area climate, which might harm communication and navigation programs.

The SMOS satellite tv for pc carries a novel interferometric radiometer that operates at a frequency of 1.four GHz within the L-band microwave vary of the electromagnetic spectrum to seize ‘brightness temperature’ photographs. These photographs correspond to radiation emitted from Earth’s floor, which scientists then use to derive data on soil moisture and ocean salinity.

Nevertheless, due to the vast subject of view of SMOS’ antenna, it doesn’t simply seize alerts emitted from Earth’s floor, but additionally alerts from the Solar – which create noise within the brightness temperature photographs. Subsequently, as a matter after all, a selected algorithm is used through the imaging processing process to take away this noise in order that the info is match for goal.

Nevertheless, scientists began to surprise if these Solar alerts may contribute to monitoring photo voltaic exercise.

SMOS detects area climate

We consider the Solar as offering the sunshine and heat to maintain life, nevertheless it additionally bombards us with harmful charged particles within the photo voltaic wind and radiation. Adjustments within the gentle coming from the Solar, generally known as photo voltaic flares, or within the photo voltaic wind, which carries coronal mass ejections, are known as area climate.

These flares or mass ejections can harm communication networks, navigations programs comparable to GPS, and different satellites. Extreme photo voltaic storms may even trigger energy outages on Earth. Understanding and monitoring area climate is, due to this fact, necessary for early warnings and taking precautionary measures.

Manuel Flores-Soriano, from the College of Alcalá in Spain, mentioned, “We discovered that SMOS can detect photo voltaic radio bursts and even weaker variations in emissions from the Solar, such because the 11-year photo voltaic cycle.

“Photo voltaic radio bursts detected by SMOS brightness temperature alerts from the Solar are typically noticed throughout flares which can be related to coronal mass ejections. We have now additionally discovered a correlation between the quantity of photo voltaic flux launched at 1.four GHz and the velocity, angular width and kinetic power of coronal mass ejections.”

These new results printed in Area Climate describe how SMOS has the distinctive skill to look at the Solar regularly with full polarimetry – making it a promising instrument for monitoring photo voltaic interference affecting International Navigation Satellite tv for pc Programs comparable to GPS and Galileo, radar and wi-fi communications, and for early warnings of photo voltaic coronal mass ejections.

Raffaele Crapolicchio, who works within the SMOS mission group at ESA, famous, “It is vitally thrilling to see how an thought I initially proposed on the European Area Climate Week again in 2015 has was these fruitful outcomes.”

SMOS in orbit

ESA’s Diego Fernandez added, “This analysis carried out although our Science for Society programme is additional proof of how versatile the SMOS mission is and the way we push the boundaries of our missions properly past their most important scientific targets. Right here we see a mission designed to look at our planet can also be in a position to observe photo voltaic exercise. Extra work will now be wanted to construct upon these preliminary outcomes and create a devoted retrieval algorithm for the L-band Solar sign and to generate merchandise for photo voltaic observations.”


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