The current capability of our technological society to predict space weather is primitive. Yet our national electric power grid, our thousands of satellites in Earth orbit and virtually all of our crucial electronic gadgetry are extremely vulnerable to the effects of severe space weather.
The White House wants U.S. agencies involved in space weather to consider commercial sources of observation data as they draft a unified, long-term plan for forecasting the kind of solar storms that can wreak havoc on all manner of electrical systems in space and on Earth.
Most people knowledgeable about space recognize space weather as a force to be reckoned with, but few fully understand the scope of the U.S. government efforts to guard against it. That is because these efforts are spread across multiple agencies, their budgets often buried within programs whose main mission is something other than space weather forecasting.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s latest space-weather satellite has reached its operational orbit more than 1.5 million kilometers from Earth, the weather agency said June 8.
As the new director of the U.S. National Weather Service's Space Environment Center, Tom Bogdan faces the twin challenges of advancing the state of the art for space weather forecasting while also ensuring -- despite a shrinking budget -- that the Boulder, Colo.-based operation keeps turning out accurate daily advisories critical to satellite operators, power companies and others needing to keep abreast of geomagnetic storms, solar flares and other such disturbances that can harm people and equipment.