CFD Research awarded NASA contract for space weather effects forecasting

CFD Research awarded NASA contract for space weather effects forecasting

(Huntsville, Ala. | July 6, 2022) – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded CFD Research an SBIR Phase II contract to further develop a space weather forecasting toolset to aid operators of space-based missions. Solar winds, the stream of charged particles emitted from the Sun, defines space weather on Earth and throughout the solar system. Extreme and potentially damaging space weather events occur when disturbances in the Sun’s atmosphere propagating through and interacting with the solar wind, reach the Earth’s magnetosphere, and subsequently, locations of space assets.

“Space weather phenomena such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and associated solar particle events (SPEs) can damage critical space-based and terrestrial infrastructure,” said Ashok Raman, CFD Research Director and principal investigator for this project. “Operators of such systems have a compelling need for a capability to forecast major space-weather storms and potential effects to enable risk mitigation.”

Models and tools for solar weather predictions are currently available; however, they often tend to be research-oriented and many are not suitable for operational settings. There is no comprehensive solution that integrates the required capabilities to provide actionable predictions, especially in an efficient and rapid format for mission operations planning. CFD Research and the University of Alabama in Huntsville are about to change that by developing a novel Radiation, Interplanetary Shocks, and Coronal Sources (RISCS) toolset which is enhancing and integrating existing research codes into a software product for situational assessment and decision-making directly related to space operations.

In prior work, the team led by CFD Research identified potential end-users and technology transition avenues and derived RISCS design requirements including features, relevant performance metrics, and limitations of existing space weather modeling software. In this follow-on project, the team will fully implement the software framework, run end-to-end simulations of the modular code to demonstrate that RISCS meets the specified design requirements, and customize and deliver RISCS to selected end-users.

“A predictive capability for SPE-induced radiation and resulting operational effects can help mission/equipment managers schedule tasks and adopt risk mitigation strategies,” said Matt Bender, CFD Research Vice President of Energy & Materials Division. “This is directly relevant to government agencies and commercial entities with space-based or high-altitude assets (e.g., satellites), commercial aviation, navigation/GPS, radio communications, utilities/power transmission, oil pipelines, and such.”

About CFD Research: Since its inception in 1987, CFD Research has worked with government agencies, businesses, and academia to provide innovative solutions within the Aerospace & Defense, Biomedical & Life Sciences, and Energy & Materials industries. Over the years CFD Research has earned multiple national awards for the successful application and commercialization of innovative technology prototypes, multi-physics simulation software, multi-disciplinary analyses, and expert support services. CFD Research’s impressive three-year growth rate was high enough to recognize the company in the Inc. Magazine’s 5000 for the second year in a row. CFD Research is an ISO9001 and AS9100 registered company and is appraised at CMMI Level II for services. Learn more at