The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plans to conduct technology demonstrations and pathfinder projects as it prepares to update its Earth observation constellations.
With key space weather satellites expected to fail before U.S. and European agencies launch replacements, “small satellites may be the only way of averting a bleak future,” said Daniel Baker, director of the University of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics.
Since the U.S. military is extremely reliant on satellites for communications, intelligence and navigation, the Air Force is striving to augment space weather observations, models and predictions. Unfortunately, progress often occurs at a glacial pace.
The U.S. Air Force is seeking continuous improvement of its ability to understand and forecast space weather that impacts Defense Department satellites, said Ralph Stoffler, Air Force director of weather.
Despite current low levels of solar activity, space weather experts warned April 5 that the sun could still produce powerful and unpredictable storms that could disrupt activities in space and on the earth.
As a Senate committee approved a new version of a space weather research bill Jan. 24, officials at government agencies said they have seen little sign of changes to ongoing efforts in this field despite the transition in administrations.
A meeting of atmospheric and space scientists this week will feature enthusiasm about a new generation of weather satellites tempered by uncertainty about the future of key programs in the Trump administration.