Such a system has not yet existed in Russia. Ionosphere-M satellites will orbit the Earth in late 2022 or early 2023 as part of the Ionozond project

The Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences presented a mockup of the Ionosphere-M satellite at its exhibition: such spacecraft are scheduled to orbit the Earth closer to the end of 2022 or early 2023 as part of the Ionosonde project. Ionosphere-M satellites will become the first element of the global “space weather” monitoring system. Such a system has not yet existed in Russia.

A total of four Ionosphere-M spacecraft will be in the Earth’s ionosphere, a pair for each orbital plane. Their equipment will allow, among other things, to observe the Sun and build solar maps, monitor the Earth’s ozone layer, and monitor magnetospheric phenomena and the radiation situation in near-Earth space. Such a wide range of possibilities for monitoring and research is related to the peculiarities of the ionosphere.

“Take something familiar and simple – magnetic storms. It is known that those suffering from heart failure need to monitor them, to take preventive measures during storms. So there is an analogy between cosmic weather and ordinary weather, which meteodependent people pay attention to. Monitoring processes occurring on the Sun and in the Earth’s atmosphere is important for many other reasons as well: magnetic storms cause interference in navigation systems, voltage overloads in power lines. Many years ago, this caused half the country to be left without electricity in Canada,” said Sergei Alexandrovich Pulinets, Doctor of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Chief Researcher at IKI RAS.

Monitoring of space weather will take place thanks to the scientific instrument installed on the Ionosphere-M, which gave the name to the project. The principle of its operation is as follows: the ionosonde emits radio pulses at different frequencies and conducts a kind of “tomography”, registering the concentration of electrons at different heights from the surface of the Earth. The Ion Probe project will make it possible to obtain data not only from the surface of the planet, but also directly from the atmosphere.

In our country, ion probes have been installed on various spacecraft since 1970. But Russia has not yet had a full-fledged “space weather” monitoring system. Ionosonde complex will be the first element of such a large-scale system. The customers are the Russian Federal Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring Service and the Russian Academy of Sciences. The apparatus is being built at VNIIEM Corporation (part of Roscosmos) as part of the Russian Federal Space Program 2016-2025.

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