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SUNRISE Sustained and UNified Research Infrastructure for Solar data sErvices

The SUNRISE project has been selected for funding under the INFRA-FED program, as part of the Impulse action to foster the development of emerging research infrastructures within federal research institutions

Project Summary 

Context: The main goal of the Solar physics and space weather department at the Royal Observatory of Belgium (ROB), called SIDC, is to observe the Sun and collect solar observations to the benefit of research, space weather operations, and data services. SIDC is responsible for several ground- and space-based solar instruments and is in charge of curating data collections for and from space weather forecasting operations. It also hosts the World Data Center for Sunspot Index and Long-term Solar Observations (WDC-SILSO), and provides near real-time space weather warning and forecasting services through its Regional Warning Centre (RWC). Data services for disseminating these various data collections have mostly been established on the basis of individual projects. Consequently, homogeneity of data services is often missing, and expertise on data services is spread among various sub-teams of the department. 

Objective: The overarching goal of this project is to work towards a common data service infrastructure that will serve not only the whole SIDC internally but also external users. As a start, we consider two data services related to the monitoring of the Sun. These are currently independent data services at different stages of development, and within SUNRISE we will  bring them together within a common platform, building upon the SIDC Event Database (EventDB), a core piece of infrastructure which already collects several datasets in support of space weather operations. 

The first data service is related to the long-term monitoring of the Sun by the world data center SILSO (WDC-SILSO). The SILSO pipeline will be automated to be more easily linked to the common platform. At the same time new services will be implemented, such as the monitoring of the stations that provide sunspot counts, and the production of the Group Sunspot Number.

The second data service is related to the short-term monitoring of the Sun and improvement of space weather forecasting capabilities by the development of a rich data model and data services for ‘Events chains, from the Sun to the Earth’ (ECHOS).  We aim at developing a comprehensive data model for describing the complex chain of solar eruptive events, occurring on the Sun and traveling towards the Earth. It will encompass the description of individual events and features in the chain: sunspot group and active region, flare, waves, Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) and CME-driven shock, particle event and, at the end of the chain, geomagnetic disturbance. It will also be applied to describe datasets already present within the EventDB and within SILSO. In accordance with this data model, event chain catalogues produced by recent validation and research projects will be used to populate the ECHOS DB.

The new platform will be built in such a way that in the future the entire Space Weather forecast workflow is intended to be stored within this database, such that not only the final forecast but also a more complete data-chain leading up to the forecast may be disclosed structurally. Indeed, in this time of growing need for accurate space weather forecasting services, bridging the gap between science and operations is crucial. The structured database and data model will help in closing this gap by ensuring structural storage of the operationally produced information, thus allowing research on these generated data right away, effectively creating a feedback loop between research and operations. 

WDC-SILSO and ECHOS are different in nature and in their development phase. Bringing them together requires a sufficiently flexible research infrastructure. The gained knowledge is essential to implement and integrate other similar data services in the future. 

Methodology: A collaborative approach, bringing together a broad expertise about databases, IT services, data management, as well as research content (data models, computation of International Sunspot Number, linking of different solar events, etc.) will enable progress in these two data services as well as on the deployment of a common data service platform. 

Impact: A common data service infrastructure for all SIDC data services will improve the efficiency of current services, facilitate the addition of new services in future projects, and provide at competitive cost visibility and FAIR access to all SIDC data. The automation of the WDC-SILSO production will ensure lower maintenance costs, thus improving its sustainability. ECHOS will help to disseminate the knowledge of the sequence of physical processes at work in Sun-to-Earth event chains and to build an easily accessible database of forecasting examples. The common data service will significantly enhance the visibility of the entire SIDC and its Space Weather forecasting services, as lesser known or newer data products will become visible alongside the products with an established reputation. 


April 2023 – December 2026

Participating institutions

Coordinator: Royal Observatory of Belgium

National partner: KULeuven

International partner: Community Coordinated Modelling Centre as part of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Centre (CCMC)