Space Weather Act Introduced in Senate

An image taken from the International Space Station shows orange swaths of airglow hovering in Earth’s atmosphere. NASA’s new Atmospheric Waves Experiment will observe this airglow from a perch on the space station to help scientists understand, and ultimately improve forecasts of, space weather changes in the upper atmosphere. (Credits: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

On Sept. 2, 1859, a powerful solar storm of highly charged particles overwhelmed the Earth’s protective magnetic field, shorting out telegraph wires and igniting fires across the United States and Europe.

Aware of the havoc that a similar event could cause on a planet increasingly dependent on satellites and electronics, the U.S. government is looking to better predict, protect against and recover from future solar storms.

(more…)

UK Scientists Get $9.25 Million to Study Space Weather

LONDON (UKSA PR) — New national space funding worth £7 million [$9.25 million] will ensure UK scientists play a leading role in a new space weather mission, the Science Minister Chris Skidmore announced on the first day of British Science Week (8 March).

The Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer (SMILE) mission will study how the solar wind interacts with the Earth’s magnetosphere, which can impact on satellites, power grids and communications networks integral to our modern lives.

(more…)

Space Weather Kicks Up a Social Storm

Space weather effects. (Credit: ESA/Science Office)

PARIS, 1 March 2019 (ESA PR) — One of the most visible — and fabulously beautiful — effects of this ‘space weather’ on our planet are the aurora borealis, the famous ‘northern lights’ that dance across the high (and low) latitudes.

Throughout human history, spectacular auroral eruptions have given rise to fearful beliefs of mythological creatures, have driven folklore and have influenced culture, religion and art.

(more…)

NOAA, FAA AST Space Programs Get Funding Boosts

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Last week, we took a look at the significant increase in NASA’s budget for FY 2019. In this story, we will examine the budget increases for the Commerce Department — which manages the nation’s weather satellites — and the Department of Transportation, which oversees commercial launches. We will also take a look how the White House’s National Space Council fared.

Commerce Department

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

NOAA’s satellite programs received $1,45 billion, which is an increase of $55 million over FY 2018. The bulk of the funding is designated for the GOES-R,  Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and Polar Follow-on (PFO) programs. The amounts include:

  • JPSS: $548 million
  • GOES-R: $408.4 million
  • PFO: $330 million

(more…)

NASA Selects Mission to Study Space Weather from Space Station

An image taken from the International Space Station shows orange swaths of airglow hovering in Earth’s atmosphere. NASA’s new Atmospheric Waves Experiment will observe this airglow from a perch on the space station to help scientists understand, and ultimately improve forecasts of, space weather changes in the upper atmosphere. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected a new mission that will help scientists understand and, ultimately, forecast the vast space weather system around our planet. Space weather is important  because it can have profound impacts – affecting technology and astronauts in space, disrupting radio communications and, at its most severe, overwhelming power grids.

The new experiment will, for the first time, obtain global observations of an important driver of space weather in a dynamic region of Earth’s upper atmosphere that can cause interference with radio and GPS communications.

(more…)

NASA Receives Significant Funding Increase with $21.5 Billion Budget

The Lunar Gateway (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA has received a $21.5 billion budget for fiscal year 2019, which is $736.86 million above FY 2018 and $1.6 billion above the total requested by the Trump Administration.

The funding, which came more than four months into the fiscal year,  was included in an appropriations bill signed by President Donald Trump on Friday. NASA’s budget has been on an upward trajectory over the last few years. In FY 2018, the space agency received an $1.64 billion increase over the previous year.

(more…)

UCLA Students Launch Project that’s Out of this World

By Rebecca Kendall
UCLA

Five years ago, a group of UCLA undergrads came together with a common goal — to build a small satellite and launch it into space. In the years since, more than 250 students — many of whom are now UCLA graduate students and alumni — have been the mechanical engineers, software developers, thermal and power testers, electronics technicians, mission planners and fabricators of the twin Electron Losses and Fields Investigation CubeSats, known as ELFIN.

(more…)

NASA Announces Initiative to Boost Small Science Satellite Efforts

Artist illustration of events on the sun changing the conditions in Near-Earth space. A new study finds daily U.S. economic cost from solar storm-induced electricity blackouts could be in the tens of billions of dollars. (Credit: NASA)

LOGAN, Utah — The head of NASA’s science programs unveiled an $100 million per year initiative on Monday focused on the use of small scuebce satellites that includes data buys from three spacecraft constellation operators.

Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said the funding would go to targeted space science, technology and educational projects. He made the announcement during a keynote address at the annual Small Satellite Conference in Logan, Utah.

A key element of the initiative is the purchase of Earth science data from companies with satellite constellations in Earth orbit. Zurbuchen announced that the first purchases will be made from DigitalGlobe, Planet and Spire. He did not disclose the amounts of the awards.

Zurbuchen said NASA’s goal is to work with the growing small-satellite industry, not to compete with it. The space agency will invest in early-stage research and development to advance and test new technologies.

Zurbuchen also announced a new opportunity for small-satellite technology demonstrations focused on heliophysics that will be funded at up to $65 million.

“This opportunity will ultimately help deploy #SmallSat technologies to better understand @NASASun science and protect Americans by protecting US technological infrastructure on Earth and in space from the perils of space weather,” he tweeted.

Zurbuchen said NASA plans to provide more launch and rideshare opportunities for small satellites built by government, commercial and international partners.

House Science Committee Passes Revised Space Weather Bill

Artist illustration of events on the sun changing the conditions in Near-Earth space. A new study finds daily U.S. economic cost from solar storm-induced electricity blackouts could be in the tens of billions of dollars. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (House Science Committee PR) – The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee approved legislation today to better protect lives, property, and infrastructure from the adverse effects of space weather.

(more…)

DARPA Seeks 72-hour Space Environment Forecasts with Hourly Updates

An aurora, visible at the Earth’s poles as a result of a geomagnetic storm, can interfere with satellite operations. DARPA’s Space Environment Exploitation program aims to develop precision forecasting of a host of disturbances in the near-Earth space environment. (Credit: DARPA)

ARLINGTON, Va. (DARPA PR) — Models for providing hourly terrestrial weather forecasts anywhere in the world have become increasingly precise—our smartphones buzz or chirp with local alerts of approaching thunderstorms, heavy snow, flash floods, and big events like tornados and hurricanes.

The military relies on accurate weather forecasts for planning complex operations in the air, on ground, and at sea. But when it comes to predicting environmental conditions in specific locations within the vast volume of space, no similar forecasting exists.

(more…)

UK to Play Major Role in Space Weather Mission Concept

Artist illustration of events on the sun changing the conditions in Near-Earth space. A new study finds daily U.S. economic cost from solar storm-induced electricity blackouts could be in the tens of billions of dollars. (Credit: NASA)

SWINDON, UK (UKSA PR) — Teams from across the UK will work on a concept for a future European mission to help reduce the global risk of damage caused by space weather.

Space weather occurs when the sun ejects material which can be highly charged, super heated and hazardous to manmade infrastructure and human life in space.

(more…)

Senate Appropriators Reject Trump’s Cut to Weather Satellite Budget

The Senate Appropriations Committee has rejected a proposal by the Trump Administration for a significant funding in a key NOAA weather satellite program.

Senate appropriators have provided $419 million for the Polar Follow-on (PFO) program for fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018). The program is aimed on developing two Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) spacecraft to follow two already funded JPSS satellites.  The JPSS-1 satellite is scheduled for launch later this year.

(more…)

Space Weather Research & Forecasting Act Introduced in House


WASHINGTON, DC (Ed Perlmutta PR) — Today, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-7) introduced the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act.  This bipartisan legislation, cosponsored by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (OK-1) and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), is the House companion to S. 141 introduced by Senators Gary Peters, Cory Gardner, Cory Booker, and Roger Wicker which passed the Senate earlier this year.

(more…)