Ushering in the Age of Space Weather Forecast

2018-04-25 Academic

The research team led by Professor Jong-Ho Seon at the Department of Astronomy and Space Science has developed, for the first time in Korea, a new space weather detector system for Chollian 2A (geostationary orbit complex satellite), a dedicated weather satellite. The Chollian 2 is scheduled to launch in the latter half of this year.

The space weather detector is comprised of three sensors: particle detector, magnetic field sensor, and atmospheric electricity sensor. This weather station was developed in collaboration with the Space Science Lab of University of California, Berkeley (UCB) and European Space Agency (ESA).

For this joint research project, the ESA donated an advanced magnetic field measuring instrument, valued at three billion KRW, to Kyung Hee. Besides the instrument donated by ESA, the University was responsible for developing the other two instruments, namely the particle detector and the atmospheric electricity sensor, in collaboration with domestic companies.

Space weather forecast minimizes damages in materials and human life
Once the meteorological instrument onboard Chollian 2 enters the geostationary orbit, it begins its 10-year mission to survey weather in space. The station is operated by Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). When KARI sends a command signal to the satellite, the instrument sends back the meteorological survey data to ground station of the National Weather Service.

Then, the ground station generates a weather forecast based on information collected on high energy particles, earth’s magnetic field, and the level of electrical charging detected on the satellite. Using this information, predictions are made regarding possible weather damage on satellite communication, ground communication, air traffic, and others, thereby minimizing potential loss on material and human life.

Space weather significantly impacts humans and the Earth. However, what happens in space is very different from weather events that occur in the atmospheric zone. Space meteorology takes the data collected by the satellite to study the Sun’s activities, and forecasts their physical effects on Earth and its low orbits.

Kyung Hee’s space exploration technology gains global recognition
This is not the first time Kyung Hee has set out on a mission in space. In 2012, a joint project with UCB successfully launched the miniaturized space exploration satellite called ‘CINEMA 1’ into a low Earth orbit, followed by CINEMA 2 and 3 in 2013. It was the first space mission in Korea using a miniature satellite, and the first in the world to use 3 satellites, designed to perform the same objective, for space exploration. Furthermore, by signing an international research agreement with ESA in 2016, the University has been able to consistently enhance the quality of space exploration in Korea.

There are two types of the Chollian 2: Chollian 2A is loaded with meteorological instruments for atmospheric and space weather, whereas 2B is being designed as a maritime and environmental survey satellite. Launch is scheduled in 2018 for the 2A, and in 2019 for the 2B, respectively.

Professor Jong-Ho Seon is the principal researcher overseeing the development of the instruments. He expressed high expectations from this effort and said, “By using this space weather satellite, we will be able to offer critical space science data of Asia and the Far East to the world, and we expect to generate globally recognized research outcome. The success of this development project will not only raise Korea’s space science studies into the next level, but also contribute in a big way to expanding its base.”

For this international joint research, a total of 11 scholars participated from Kyung Hee; in addition to Professor Jong-Ho Seon, there were two full time doctoral researchers, four doctoral candidates, and another four in master’s programs.

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