SHIELDS Space Weather Platform

Organization: Los Alamos National Laboratory
Co-Developer(s): University of Michigan
Year: 2017

SHIELDS Space Weather Platform predicts space weather before it can have an effect on satellites, serving as an effective line of defense for communication, navigation and scientific satellites orbiting the Earth’s magnetosphere. SHIELDS—Space Hazards Induced near Earth by Large, Dynamic Storms—employs multiscale modeling and assimilates satellite observational data to achieve an unprecedented specification of the near-earth space environment. SHIELDS is an end-to-end model of the magnetosphere driven by the dynamic solar wind. It is designed to predict one of the most harmful space-weather hazards—the spacecraft surface-charging environment (SCE). A thorough understanding of SCE is needed to strengthen spacecraft design when it comes to hazard mitigation. In essence, as satellites orbit around the planet, they are bombarded with charged particles, and surface charging represents the collection of charged particles by a spacecraft. Because surface charging is typically not uniform around a spacecraft, it drives potential differences across the craft’s components, leading to discharges that could damage onboard electronics. To tackle SCE, SHIELDS has been incorporated with the University of Michigan’s Space Weather Modeling Framework (SWMF), which has high-performance computational capabilities critical to resolve SCE dynamics.