The proposed effort is aligned with the goals of NASA's Living With a Star (LWS) program that is focused on developing a predictive understanding of solar activity and its effects on Earth and space-based assets. The newly developed and validated "event-to-effects" modeling capability will be synergistic to the strategic capability models available to the scientific community (e.g., via the Community Coordinated Modeling Center CCMC - at Goddard/GSFC). In fact, the MAG4 solar activity forecasting code within the overall SPE4 package is already (individually) available from CCMC. With the subsequent emphasis on linking with codes to calculate effects in electronics, optimizing SPE4 interfaces and calculation procedures, and continued validation, this project will also focus on transition towards operational use. This effort also addresses objectives outlined in NASA's Human Research Roadmap and OCT Technology Roadmap TA06 Human Health, Life Support, and Habitation Systems, specifically, the sub-technology area of Radiation, including Space Weather Prediction and Protection Systems. The SPE4 software will specifically address the limitations facing mission operational planning in terms of forecasting the occurrence, magnitude, and all-clear periods of SPEs. The SPE4 framework will also support interfaces to other downstream codes for radiation effects calculations (e.g., to analyze and design effective shielding materials).
Dynamic variations in the high-energy, highly-penetrating solar particle environment can adversely affect aircraft (especially near the Poles), cause navigational and GPS equipment interference, disrupt spacecraft electronic systems, and cause disruption/equipment failure in communication systems. For DoD agencies and commercial entities with space-based or high-altitude assets, an efficient and accurate predictive capability for the radiation environment at desired locations or along preset trajectories, and resulting effects caused in systems (electronics, materials), will be a significant aid to mission planners for scheduling tasks and to adopt risk mitigation strategies for equipment. Changes in the Earth's ionosphere due to SPEs can modify the transmission path and even block transmission of High Frequency (1-30 MHz) radio signals. These frequencies are used by amateur (ham) radio operators, commercial airlines, and government agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Defense. Terrestrial applications such as electric power transmission systems can be affected by SPE-induced changes to the geomagnetic field leading to blackouts. Induced stray currents leading to corrosion in above-ground oil pipelines (near the Poles) is another concern. In all these cases, a predictive capability for SPE-induced radiation spikes can help equipment managers intelligently manage operations and prevent catastrophic failures.