New Space and Tech

Space Weather Observations, Modeling, and Alerts in Support of Human Exploration of Mars

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
November 9, 2022
Filed under , ,
Space Weather Observations, Modeling, and Alerts in Support of Human Exploration of Mars
The modeled Martian responses to an extreme Carrington-type SW event before (A) and at the peak of the solar storm (B).

Space weather observations and modeling at Mars have begun but they must be significantly increased to support the future of Human Exploration on the Red Planet.

A comprehensive space weather understanding of a planet without a global magnetosphere and a thin atmosphere is very different from our situation at Earth so there is substantial fundamental research remaining. It is expected that the development of suitable models will lead to a comprehensive operational Mars space weather alert (MSWA) system that would provide rapid dissemination of information to Earth controllers, astronauts in transit, and those in the exploration zone (EZ) on the surface by producing alerts that are delivered rapidly and are actionable.

To illustrate the importance of such a system, we use a magnetohydrodynamic code to model an extreme Carrington-type coronal mass ejection (CME) event at Mars. The results show a significant induced surface field of nearly 3000 nT on the dayside that could radically affect unprotected electrical systems that would dramatically impact human survival on Mars. Other associated problems include coronal mass ejection (CME) shock-driven acceleration of solar energetic particles producing large doses of ionizing radiation at the Martian surface.

In summary, along with working more closely with international partners, the next Heliophysics Decadal Survey must include a new initiative to meet expected demands for space weather forecasting in support of humans living and working on the surface of Mars. It will require significant effort to coordinate NASA and the international community contributions.

James L. Green, Chuanfei Dong, Michael Hesse, C. Alex Young, Vladimir Airapetian

Comments: 14 pages, 3 figures, 1 table; to appear in Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences
Subjects: Space Physics (; Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2211.04021 [] (or arXiv:2211.04021v1 [] for this version)
Submission history
From: Chuanfei Dong
[v1] Tue, 8 Nov 2022 05:52:38 UTC (2,310 KB)

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.