Overview of the SHIELDS Project at LANL
Wednesday, 16 December 2015: 08:45
2018 (Moscone West)
The near-Earth space environment is a highly dynamic and coupled system through a complex set of physical processes over a large range of scales, which responds nonlinearly to driving by the time-varying solar wind. Predicting variations in this environment that can affect technologies in space and on Earth, i.e. “space weather”, remains a big space physics challenge. We present a recently funded project through the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Directed Research and Development (LDRD) program that is developing a new capability to understand, model, and predict Space Hazards Induced near Earth by Large Dynamic Storms, the SHIELDS framework. The project goals are to specify the dynamics of the hot (keV) particles (the seed population for the radiation belts) on both macro- and micro-scale, including important physics of rapid particle injection and acceleration associated with magnetospheric storms/substorms and plasma waves. This challenging problem is addressed using a team of world-class experts in the fields of space science and computational plasma physics and state-of-the-art models and computational facilities. New data assimilation techniques employing data from LANL instruments on the Van Allen Probes and geosynchronous satellites are developed in addition to physics-based models. This research will provide a framework for understanding of key radiation belt drivers that may accelerate particles to relativistic energies and lead to spacecraft damage and failure. The ability to reliably distinguish between various modes of failure is critically important in anomaly resolution and forensics. SHIELDS will enhance our capability to accurately specify and predict the near-Earth space environment where operational satellites reside.