Observational Facilities and Data Services

Mauna Loa Solar Observatory

Implementation of a real-time, automated Coronal Mass Ejection alert system: 

Fast CME on Jan 1, 2016 image
Depiction of a fast CME on Jan 1, 2016 that generated a SEP event at Earth

It was demonstrated in 2017 that Mauna Loa Solar Observatory (MLSO) COSMO K-Cor observations can provide early warning of fast coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and possible onset of solar energetic particle (SEP) events. Fast CMEs and SEP events are responsible for significant Space Weather storms at Earth and throughout the heliosphere. The Figure at right shows a fast CME on Jan 1, 2016 that generated a SEP event at Earth. The CME is visible in the Mauna Loa K-Cor observations (blue/white part of image) about 20 minutes before it is visible in the LASCO C2 space-based coronagraph (red/white part of image).  In FY17, HAO completed the implementation of a CME early warning system from Mauna Loa. Completed work includes:  installation of new computer server and realtime K-Cor data processing software package at Mauna Loa; modification to and automation of CME detection code from NASA to identify CMEs in K-Cor data in realtime; creation of automatic CME email alerts to scientists at NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, NASA space weather research center, and HAO scientists.

The CME detection code underwent significant testing by HAO and NASA staff to develop performance metrics on the success of the algorithm to detect a CME. The algorithm successfully identified all fast and modest speed CMEs that occurred in 2017 K-Cor observations except for two occasions when 2 CMEs occurred simultaneously. FY18 work will include implementation of additional criteria to isolate simultaneous CMEs and to improve CME trajectory estimates.

Mauna Loa Support of Eclipse Experiments

Aug 21, 2017 eclipse images image

Aug 21, 2017 eclipse images of the polarized white light corona with a contrast (sobel) filter applied. Data from left to right are: Mauna Loa K-cor coronagraph, the HAO PolarCam camera experiment, and the PACA_CATE_Polnet instrument.

HAO successfully conducted four ground-based eclipse experiments with co-sponsorship from NASA. Mauna Loa coronagraphs acquired coronal images near eclipse time in support of the HAO eclipse experiments. The Mauna Loa K-Cor coronagraph data provided a successful cross-calibration for the HAO eclipse PolarCam data and the  PACA_CATE_PolNet data (associated with the Citizen CATE  experiment). These data are used to compute the percent polarization of the corona and the coronal electron density. This information provides constraints on models of the coronal magnetic field and supplies estimates of the mass of coronal structures (e.g. CMEs). Preliminary scientific findings are reported at the Fall 2017 AGU meeting.

Installation of GPS at Mauna Loa for Ionsphere Studies

Other work completed at Mauna Loa over the past year includes the successful installation of an HAO GPS system to monitor ionsphere scintillation. Data have been acquired at Mauna Loa for nearly a year. These observations help validate TIEGCM and WACCM-X models.