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Evaluating pointing strategies for future solar flare missions

Presentation #411.02 in the session High-energy Solar Investigations through Next-generation Remote Sensing: Spectroscopy, Imaging, and Beyond II.

Published onOct 20, 2022
Evaluating pointing strategies for future solar flare missions

The exact location and timing of an individual flare on the Sun cannot yet be predicted with certainty. Therefore, partial field-of-view solar missions whose science objectives depend on observing solar flares must often make difficult decisions on where to target their observations. In this study, we analyze and simulate the performance of different observation strategies using historical flare and active region data from 2011 to 2014. We test a number of different target selection strategies based on active region complexity and recent flare activity, each of which is examined under a range of operational assumptions. In each case, we investigate various metrics such as the number of flares observed, the size of flares observed, and operational considerations such as the number of instrument repoints required. Overall, target selection methods based on recent flare activity showed the best overall performance but required more repointings than other methods. The mission responsiveness to new information is identified as another strong factor determining flare observation performance. It is also shown that target selection methods based on active region complexities show a significant pointing bias toward the western solar hemisphere. Optimization of the instrument field of view is also explored. This study provides valuable performance estimates for a future mission focused on solar flares and informs the requirements that would ensure mission success.

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