SWATCH

Proposed NASA Center for Space Weather Applications and Technology in the Corona and Heliosphere

Image credit:  NASA

Research Areas

Solar

Inner Heliosphere

Solar Energetic Particles

Machine Learning

Center Vision. Understanding and predicting violent solar eruptions and their terrestrial impact have become a strategic national priority, as it affects the daily life of humans, including communication, transportation, power supplies, national defense, space travel, and more. We propose to create a Space Weather (SWx) Center of Excellence that involves the experts with synergistic expertise in multiple fields, including data assimilation and analysis, coronal and heliospheric physics, software development, computer science, particularly, machine learning, image analysis, and uncertainty quantification, and transition to operations. These require extensive collaboration with industry and will highly benefit from international partnership. We see Center built on the strong theoretical and modeling backgrounds, employ a multitude of in situ and remote observations, and ensure the operational capacity of modeling forecasts.

Our research objectives are aimed to substantially improve the community ability to forecast and prepare for SWx hazards through

  1. accurate prediction of coronal mass ejection arrival at Earth and magnetic field components that can cause geomagnetic storms, and related radio bursts;
  2. development of robust approaches to the description of acceleration of solar energetic particles and their transport throughout the interplanetary space;
  3. extensive validation of the developed products with observational data and application of machine learning to efficiently mitigate uncertainties in the parameters controlling SWx;
  4. collaboration with civil and commercial communities affected by SWx to make a qualitative leap forward towards the development of a new generation of SWx forecasting software;
  5. broad community involvement, including minority-serving institutions.

Impact. The work proposed here is expected to have a major impact on SWx science, which is recognized to have important societal consequences both nationally and worldwide. Our Center will not only be transformational in terms its unique capabilities to dramatically improve the accuracy and performance of present operational models, but will also involve the broad community into using, experimenting with, and extending the developed tools to create new capabilities and ensure sustainability of the research outcome. Our effort will provide leadership in promoting SWx research nationwide.

Broader impact. The development of physical models based on uncertainty quantification and embracing “coupling complexity” via the self-consistent incorporation of multiple physical scales and multiple physical processes is viewed as a pivotal development in the different plasma physics areas. Besides the impact on the modeling of complex plasma systems involving CMEs and SEPs, we anticipate that our approach to computational resource management for complex codes utilizing multiple algorithm technologies and machine learning will be a major advance on current approaches. Our Center will have a broad impact on education of students and postdoctoral researchers, including those in the minority communities. It will help improve their understanding of SWx challenges and expose them to modern theories and advanced space measurements. The meetings and schools we plan to organize as a part of the Center activity will serve the dissemination of knowledge and creating workforce in the proposed field of study.