Space Weather |
Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation (AIR) produces chemically active radicals in
biological tissues that can lead to severe illnesses and cancer.
Flight crews and passengers are subject to AIR produced by background
galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and solar particle events (SPE).
The FAA has estimated annual exposure to aircrews equals, if not exceeds,
the recommended allowable limits for the average nuclear power plant worker.
Frequent-flyer business passengers are more likely to be exposed to even higher
doses than the aircrew because flight hours are not restricted for passengers.
This exposure risk has begun to increase substantially with the explosive
growth of transpolar routes used for commercial passenger aviation.
The development of commercial space ventures, including the potential for space
tourism during the next decade, further increases the need to understand and
measure this hazard.
ASAP has taken the initiative to develop the first full-physics, global,
nowcast capability for calculating radiation dosimetry parameters at commercial
airline altitudes. This NASA Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation for Aviation Safety
(NAIRAS) model will provide the FAA and the aviation industry valuable data
for developing policies and procedure for modifying aircrew travel schedules
to limit radiation exposures. Critical data will also be offered to aid in
airline policy or management decisions for flight rerouting during solar storm
events. ASAP will also provide NAIRAS model output to the public health
community to assist in epidemiological studies to inform these decision
makers in government and industry.
Space weather also affects communications and the stability of microelectronic
devices. ASAP is addressing this hazard by working with NCAR to develop a prototype
global graphic product of Total Electron Count (TEC) data. TEC data are produced
by the Air Force Weather Agency at Offutt AFB using Global Atmosperic
Ionization Model (GAIM) output. The GAIM Model version being
run was developed by Utah State University under a DOD Multi-University Research
Initiative (MURI) grant independent of the ASAP Project. Dr. Arnaud Dumont at
NCAR is leading the effort to develop the prototype ASAP graphic for evaluation
on the experimental side of the NOAA Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS)
server. Casey Perry of the NASA DEVELOP Program spearheaded this initiative
through a Solutions Network proposal grant from the NASA Applied Sciences