Advanced Thermosphere Modelling for Orbit Prediction (ATMOP)

Call identifier: FP7-SPACE-2010-1

Project number: 261948


The ATMOP research project aims at building a new thermosphere model with the potential to spawn an operational version. It will enable precise air drag computation which is mandatory for improved survey and precise tracking of space objects in Low Earth Orbit and the initiation of appropriate measures to minimise risks to satellites (track loss, collisions) and ground assets (re-entry zone). The state of the thermosphere can vary rapidly and significantly in response to solar and geomagnetic activity (space weather), i.e., accurate orbit prediction requires accurate space-time nowcast and forecast of the thermosphere. Despite the presence in Europe of one of the three groups that have the capability to develop and maintain an operational semi-empirical thermosphere model (CNES/CNRS, the other two are in the US), and of one of the world leading teams in the field of physical modelling of the atmosphere (UCL), Europe has currently neither a near-real-time thermosphere prediction model nor operational services to provide regular thermosphere nowcast and forecast. The ATMOP project is designed to fill this gap through: Defining and assessing new proxies to describe the external forcing of the thermosphere; Developing an advanced semi-empirical Drag Temperature Model (DTM) that meets the requirements for operational orbit computations; Improving physical modelling of the thermosphere to assist the development of the advanced DTM and of a global physical model with data assimilation capabilities which may ultimately become the successor to semi-empirical models; and Developing schemes for near-real-time assimilation of thermospheric and ionospheric data into an advanced predictive DTM and into the physical Coupled Middle Atmosphere-Thermosphere (CMAT2) model. ATMOP therefore contributes to ensuring the security of space assets from space weather events (SPA.2010.2.3-01) and the development of the European capability to reduce dependence of space operations on the US.

Main Objectives of ATMOP


Former purpose is translated into four main scientific objectives. Six work packages have been defined to address those objectives.

Scientific Objectives Objectives
DTM Development of an advanced semi-empirical Drag Temperature Model (DTM) that is accurate enough to meet the requirements set by space agencies for orbit computations.
PROX Define and assess new proxies to describe the external (EUV and geomagnetic) forcing of the Thermosphere by the Sun.
PHMOD Physical modelling of the thermosphere
THERM Support European research activities on forecasting techniques by upgrading assimilation of thermospheric data into an existing semi-empirical model for near-real time prediction and developing thermospheric data assimilation based on a global physical thermosphere-ionosphere coupled model.


Work Package Main WP Objective WP Leader Contributing Partners ATMOP Scientific Objectives
WP1 Project Management DMS   -
WP2 Forcing the thermosphere: physical processes and proxies for semi-empirical modelling CNRS DMS, CNES PROX, DTM, PHMOD
WP3 Physical Modelling of thermospheric drag processes UCL DMS, CNRS, CLS, CNES PHMOD, DTM
WP4 Semi-empirical modelling of the thermosphere CNES DMS, CNRS, CLS DTM
WP5 Data assimilation for global analysis and near-real time prediction MET DMS, CNRS, CLS, CNES, UCL THERM, DTM, PHMOD
WP6 Dissemination CNRS All -