Central Laboratory of the Research Councils
Oxfordshire, U.K.
Jacky Hutchinson, Press Officer
Phone: +44 1235 446482
Fax: +44 1235 446665
Email: J.J.C.Hutchinson@rl.ac.uk
Dr Mike Hapgood, Project Leader
Phone: +44 1235 446520
Fax: +44 1235 446509
Email: M.A.Hapgood@rl.ac.uk

With our increasing dependence on high technology and communications, and the knowledge that the Sun’s activities can seriously damage the satellites which feed this dependence, the European Space Agency (ESA) has set up two projects to review all the relevant issues.
Dr Mike Hapgood of CLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory will be leading one of these projects to assist European organisations whose operations could be affected by space weather — a term used to cover the effects of the Sun on the space environment. The European partners in the project, which includes the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) and Astrium from the UK, will review our current scientific understanding of space weather and establish ways that this knowledge can be used to protect vulnerable systems in space, on aircraft and on the ground. They will then outline the facilities (including spacecraft and their ground support) required so that protective action can be taken. The study will also look at the prospects for co-ordination of space weather activities in the ESA member states. The end result of the study will be a proposal for a European Space Weather programme to establish those facilities.
Mike Hapgood said, "We are delighted to win this contract. There is a huge interest in the effect the Sun has on the Earth’s environment and space weather is an important subject, but it is in danger of becoming a bandwagon. This is an excellent chance for us to establish what is really important about space weather so that we can help those who might be affected."
A principal component of the space weather study is an analysis of user needs and benefits from a possible space weather programme. In order to assess fully the potential market requirements, one of the first events to be organised is a ‘virtual’ on-line workshop which will be held during June and July 2000. This workshop will bring current and potential users of space weather services together into small discussion groups on the internet in order to identify user requirements and benefits, and to debate relevant issues.
1. Space weather is concerned with changes in the space environment that affect human beings and technological systems. It has many aspects — at its most benign, space weather gives us displays of the beautiful aurora or northern lights. But at its worst space weather can disrupt the operations of power and communication networks, thus causing disruption to people’s lives and jobs. The potential risk of such disruption is increasing as society becomes more and more dependent on technological systems. Thus there is considerable interest in developing a better understanding of space weather to help us cope with those problems, for example by designing more resilient technologies or by developing operational procedures to reduce risk.
2. Astrium is a new European space company formed by the merger of Matra Marconi Space and other space companies in Europe.
3. The partner institutes:
CLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
Address: Space Science and Technology Department
        Chilton, Didcot, Oxon, UK OX11 0QX
Contact: Dr Mike Hapgood
Phone: 01235 44 6520
Email: m.hapgood@rl.ac.uk
Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA)
Address: Space Department
        Arthur C Clarke Building
        DERA Farnborough, Hampshire, UK GU14 0LX
Contact: Lesley Murphy
Phone: 01252 393766
Email: lmmurphy@dera.gov.uk
Address: Astrium
        Gunnels Wood Road, Stevenage Herts, SG1 2AS, UK
Contact: Martin Snelling
Phone: 01438 774062
Email: martin.snelling@mmsuk.co.uk
or: Emma Taylor
Phone: 01438 773914
Email: emma.taylor@mmsuk.co.uk
Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI)
Address: Finnish Meteorological Institute
        Geophysical Research
        P.O. Box 503, FIN-00101 Helsinki, Finland
Contact: Hannu Koskinen
Phone: +35 89 19 29 46 39
Email: Hannu.Koskinen@fmi.fi
Office National d’Etudes et de Recherches AÈrospatiales, DÈpartement   Environnement Spatial (ONERA/DESP)
        2 Av. Edouard Belin, BP 4025, 31055 Toulouse Cedex 4, France Contact: Manola Romero
Phone: +33 5 62 25 25 66
Email: Manola.Romero@onecert.fr
Belgian Institute for Space Aeronomy (BIRA)
Address: BIRA
        Ringlaan 3, B-1180 Brussel, Belgium
Contact: Daniel Heynderickx
Phone: +32 23 73 04 17
Email: Daniel.Heynderickx@bira-iasb.oma.be
4. Web sites:
The initial draft of the CLRC website for this project is
The relevant ESA website is