A mega-project of science research on space weather monitoring, namely the Meridian Space Weather Monitoring Project (Meridian Project for short), proposed by several research institutes and universities in China has been approved recently by the Chinese government.
With the objectives of investigating the space weather cause-consequence chain in the solar-terrestrial space, understanding the processes of the catastrophic space weather events, and the regional characteristics of the environment above China's territory so as to help ensuring the safety of space activities such as satellite operation etc., the project will set up a large-scale ground-based monitoring system composed of 15 stations along the longitude of 120°E and the latitude of 30°N, says Prof. WANG Chi, vice commander-general and chief engineer of the project.
The initiative of the Meridian Project is to conduct a comprehensive multi-layered and inter-disciplinary survey and exploration of space environment by advanced ground based techniques. With a variety of equipment, such as magnetometers, ionosondes and digisondes Incoherent Scattering Radar, HF back-scattering radar, LIDARs, Fabry-Perotinter ferometer, IPS, and sounding rockets, in a bid to probe space environment in geo-space with an altitude higher than20-30km up to the interplanetary space.
As the first step for its enforcement, Prof. Wang says, by using the 14 multi-and special-purpose observational satiations located in, such as, Mohe, the northernmost county in China, Beijing, Wuhan, Hainan Island, Shanghai and Lhasa , the project will carryout a continuous monitoring operation for obtaining relevant space environment parameters on the geomagnetic field, electrical field, wind field, air density, temperature and its composition in the middle and high layers of the atmosphere, ionosphere, magnetosphere and interplanetary space. Meanwhile, the Zhongshan Station in the Antarctica will beset up to make a comprehensive study of the polar region by scanning the vicinity centered at the south end of the longitude which passes through the Station. The Meridian project will be completed within three years.
In addition, the International Space Weather Meridian Circle Program is proposed to connect 120°E and 60°W. meridian chains of ground based monitors, which will greatly enhance the ability of monitoring space environment worldwide. Chinese scientists have started discussing this proposal with the scientists from Russia and Australia and other countries or regions running through the East Longitude 120°E as well as in related countries whose territories are traversed by the West Longitude60°W, and got very positive feedback.
The 200-million-yuan($25 million) project will be coordinated by the Center for Space Science and Applied Research, Chinese Academy of sciences, with participation of several other institutes and universities from CAS, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Information Industry, China Earthquake Administration, the State Oceanic Administration, and China Meteorological Administration.