Legislation to improve space weather prediction

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U.S. Senator Gary Peters of Michigan and Cory Gardner of Colorado reintroduced The Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act.

This bipartisan legislation directs federal agencies that study and predict space weather to coordinate with the private sector to assess the potential impacts of space weather on the United States.

“Our economy increasingly relies on our ability to stay connected, whether it’s through the electric grid, cell phones or even air travel,” said Senator Peters. “A worst-case scenario space weather event could cripple vital infrastructure and threaten our national security – and the federal government must be ready in the event of a catastrophe. This bipartisan bill will put the government on the right track to better predict and prepare for a possible disaster.”

The legislation outlines clear roles and responsibilities for federal agencies such as NASA, NOAA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense and the Federal Aviation Administration to determine what new research and technology is needed to improve the ability to forecast space weather events and mitigate potential damage.

The hope of The Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act is to strengthen the nation’s ability to predict severe space weather events such as solar flares or coronal mass ejections and mitigate their harmful impacts on Earth.

“Because space weather may have severe implications for our economic and national security as well as the potential to interrupt the delivery of essential services, it’s important that we prioritize the research and development necessary to reduce the risk and allow our nation to react and recover from these events,” said Senator Gardner.

The bill directs NOAA to develop plans for backup of aging Solar and Heliospheric Observatory satellite, the only currently operating satellite providing imagery of space weather that could impact Earth. The bill also directs the Department of Homeland Security to use space weather research and information to identify critical infrastructure that could be disrupted by space weather.

Peters and Gardner previously introduced the bill in the 115th Congress, where it unanimously passed the Senate. Companion legislation will be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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