Meteorology of Space

- T. Corbard -

An automated space weather station at Calern Observatory to monitor solar activity and mitigate related risks on worldwide satellite and communication systems

Filament eruption recorded in H-alpha spectral line by the GONG Network (USA). A coronal mass ejection was observed by the SoHO satellite just after the filament disappearance
Filament eruption recorded in H-alpha spectral line by the GONG Network (USA). A coronal mass ejection was observed by the SoHO satellite just after the filament disappearance Filament eruption recorded in H-alpha spectral line by the GONG Network (USA). A coronal mass ejection was observed by the SoHO satellite just after the filament disappearance

Academy 3 highlight

Solar activity can disrupt the Earth’s ionosphere and induce some risks to our worldwide satellite and communication systems. Studying these space risks and their physics is the field of “space weather”. The MeteoSpace project involves research in solar physics and image processing techniques, and provides new technical developments and data that will contribute to real-time space weather monitoring and mitigation of related risks.

The project

Solar activity is responsible for disturbances in our space environment, called space weather. In particular, solar activity produces specific structures, “filaments”, which are plasma prominences. These prominences sometimes erupt and eject particles at high energy in the heliosphere that can eventually reach the magnetosphere of the Earth. Their interaction with the magnetosphere disrupts the ionosphere and causes damage to our satellite and GPS communication systems. Space weather thus poses some risks to the Earth. To be prepared for and mitigate those solar risks, France joined the European Space Situational Awareness (SSA) program of ESA in 2016, and created the OFRAME group (French Organisation for Applied Research in Space Meteorology) in June 2017 to coordinate actions related to space weather. MeteoSpace is a project that contributes to these new French actions. It aims to develop and operate an automated instrument to observe the lower solar atmosphere (chromosphere) where the solar erupting filaments originate. The instrument is made of three telescopes that will be installed at Calern Observatory in Southeastern France (the site of Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur). It is conceived to operate at high cadence and in wavelengths corresponding to those of ionized calcium and hydrogen H-alpha spectral lines which are formed specifically at temperatures and densities reached in the chromosphere. As Calcium and Hydrogen create different degrees of opacity, the solar structures revealed by these two electronic emissions are seen at different heights in the chromosphere and hence can be discriminated. Two H-alpha filters centered at slightly different wavelengths will be used to provide two synchronous images of the filaments at different heights. This will improve the accuracy of their detection. Movies of the difference between two successive images will depict the chromosphere dynamics and might thus reveal the large-scale shock waves (Moreton waves) that are sometimes induced by solar eruptions. This would be the first time that an H-alpha instrument provided movies, continuously and in real time, where those waves were observed.

The +

This project contributes to the currently increasing research momentum in France on the theme of space weather. The new instrument and its data should give tremendous international visibility to UCA activities in observing programs for near-space risk management.

What’s next?

In 2018, the MeteoSpace project answered a call initiated by the OFRAME group in order to be recognized as a future provider of valuable data for space weather studies from continuous solar monitoring. In forthcoming years, we plan to join the existing international networks providing H-alpha images and to apply to ESA calls to become an official data provider of the SSA program.

Project information

Scientific domain



Solar Physics

Key words
Space Weather
Instrumentation and Observation
Calern Observatory
Total budget
600 k€ including:
41 k€ from Academy 3
Partner laboratories
Armée de l’Air Française CDAOA
LUNA technology
Project members
RUTY François (LUNA)

portrait Thierry Corbard
portrait Thierry Corbard


Project valorization


  • Malherbe Jean-Marie, Thierry Corbard, Kévin Dalmasse. Optical instrumentation for chromospheric monitoring during solar cycle 25 at Paris and Côte d'Azur observatories. Journal of Space Weather and Space Climate, EDP sciences, 2020, Topical Issue - Space Weather Instrumentation, 10, pp.31. 10.1051/swsc/2020032. hal-02894803
  • Malherbe J.-M., Thierry Corbard, K. Dalmasse, G. Barbary, C. Blanchard, et al.. Meteospace, a New Instrument for Solar Survey at the Calern Observatory. Solar Physics, Springer Verlag, 2019, 294 (12), pp.177. ⟨10.1007/s11207-019-1569-5⟩. ⟨hal-02462553⟩
  • Corbard, T., METEOSPACE: Meteorology of Space. P.-J. Barre ; C. Den Auwer; D. Fox ; F. Grognard; T. Guillot; M. Le Gourrierec; I. Manighetti. The Green Book of the Academy Space, Environment, Risk and Resilience, Université Côte d’Azur, pp.78-79, 2020, 978-2-9571154-1-9
  • Corbard, T., Morand, F. and Renaud, C. ""An automated Solar Monitor at Calern observatory for Space Weather"", Journées du Programme structurant UCA JEDI ""Matière, Lumière, Interactions"", Villa Clythia, Fréjus, France, 4-5 Oct. 2018 (2018)
  • Corbard, T. ""METEOSPACE: Automated and continuous optical observation of dynamical phenomena at the source of solar activity"", Journées de l'académie 3 UCA IDEX JEDI ""Space, Environment, risk and resilience"", Sophia Antipolis, 4/7/17 (2017)
  • Crussaire, D., Morand, F., Corbard, T., Malherbe, J.M. and METEOSPACE Team ""METEOSPACE project at Calern Observatory"", Synoptic Ground-Based Observations For Space-Weather, Nice, France, 19-20 oct 2016 (2016)
  • Corbard, T., Malherbe, J. M., Crussaire, D., Morand, F., Ruty, F., Biree, L., Renaud, C. and Meftah, M. ""METEOSPACE, surveillance solaire et météorologie de l'espace à Calern"", PNST: colloque à mis parcours, Hendaye, 14-16 juin 2016 (2016) (hal-02938178⟩
  • Corbard Thierry, Jean-Marie Malherbe, Daniel Crussaire, F. Morand, François Ruty, et al.. METEOSPACE, solar monitoring and space weather at Calern observatory. Journées 2016 de la Société Française d’Astronomie & d’Astrophysique (SF2A), Jun 2016, Lyon, France. pp.293-296. ⟨insu-01527792⟩
  • Rouillard, A. P., Pinto, R. F., Brun, A. S., Briand, C., Bourdarie, S., Dudok De Wit, T., Amari, T., Blelly, P. L., Buchlin, E., Chambodut, A., Claret, A., Corbard, T. and al. (29 auteurs) ""Space-weather assets developed by the French space-physics community"", Journées de la SF2A 2016, eds. Cambrésy, L., Deleuil, M., Pécontal, E., Reylé, C., Richard,., L., Tresse and Vauglin, I., Lyon, France, 14-17 Juin 2016, pp. 297-306 (2016)
  • Malherbe, J. M. and Corbard, T. ""METEOSPACE Telescopes pour la météorologie de l'espace"", Environnement Spatial de la Terre Recherche & Surveillance, Observatoire de Paris, Paris, France, 28 Novembre 2014 (2014)
logos partenaires METEOSPACE
logos partenaires METEOSPACE