Session P2 - Exploring Multi-Spacecraft Space Weather Monitoring

Colin Forsyth (UCL Mullard Space Science Laboratory), Malcolm Dunlop (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory), Melanie Heil (ESA)

The Sun-Earth system is hugely under-sampled. Earth’s magnetosphere, typically encompassing a volume of over a quadrillion cubic kilometres, is monitored by a handful of spacecraft at any given time. Advanced warning of the incoming solar wind is currently provided by a few spacecraft orbiting the Sun-Earth L1 point. Despite these limitations, we have built a plethora of empirical and physics-based models as well as human expertise for space weather forecasting. More observations will improve our understanding and ability to forecast space weather, through improvements to models and data assimilation, but what level of ‘multi-point’ is appropriate and how do we make best use of this information? Scientific multi-spacecraft missions such as Cluster, THEMIS, MMS, Swarm and STEREO have greatly enhanced our knowledge of the dynamics of the magnetosphere and the solar wind, especially when used together. However, detailed analysis and understanding of these data takes a lot of time and effort. How multi-point do we have to go to provide both the necessary databases for model development and the inputs to forecasting, what are the implications for orbital traffic, and how best do we make use of existing multi-point datasets and techniques in space weather?