Australian Antarctic Magazine — Issue 8: Autumn 2005

New space weather telescope

A new space weather telescope will be built in Greifswald, Germany, this year, as part of the European Space Agency’s space weather programme. It will join an international network of telescopes — in Australia, Japan and Brazil — monitoring the activities of the sun, in particular coronal mass ejections. These ejections of charged particles (plasma) can cause geomagnetic storms on Earth, damaging communication satellites, power supplies and electronic equipment, and exposing astronauts or passengers in high-flying aircraft to radiation.

The telescope network will allow scientists to forecast the arrival of plasma clouds on Earth up to 24 hours in advance. This will enable potential risks to Earth’s infrastructure and human health to be minimised.

The ‘muon space weather telescope for anisotropies at Greifswald’ (MuSTAnG) will be built by the University of Greifswald and a number of international collaborators including the AAD and Shinshu University in Japan. MuSTAnG will deliver real time information about sun activity to the German Aerospace Centre. It may also support tourism in northern regions by improving the predictability of the polar lights.

Marc Duldig, Ice, Oceans, Atmosphere and Climate Programme, AAD