Space Weather Detection System


Several small <100kg weather station satellites arrayed at various points around the solar system.  Each satellite will contain sensors for detecting the flow of charged particles from the sun. 

The early-warning group would be in an orbit around the sun, inside the orbit of mercury.  These would give a direction to CMEs quickly after they depart the sun. (Sun radius 0.7x10^6km, Mercury orbit57x10^6km, this orbit ~38x10^6km).  With 18 of these small satellites (18*100kg=1800kg could be placed in a sun-based orbit with one launch) we would have one every 20 degrees around the equator of the sun, ensuring that any CME would hit a few of them. 

The next group of satellites would be located in orbit around the Earth-Sun L1 point.  Being much closer to the earth, these wouldn't give the same early warning, but would provide a better intensity estimate.  This point is about 1% of the distance to the sun, so this would give a warning time of approximately one hour for a CME, as well as providing a good estimate of its intensity.  If there is more than one satellite here, it could provide a three dimensional picture of the CME. 

The next step would be to have a group of these in medium/low earth orbit. This would provide values for the earths magnetic field in space, so that models could predict how it will be affected by a CME as it impacts.  In additions, these will provide important real-time status and data for post-event analysis to be used in future models. 

The final piece would be a handful of these weather stations spread throughout the outer solar system. These would give information on solar wind strength and what kind of pressures a CME would face while moving outward.