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Severe Space Weather Events—Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report
These questions, and the answers and comments presented in this chapter, helped to clarify the existing status of space weather resources, how they can be accessed, and what is needed to maintain them. At times, the questions and comments from the audience extended somewhat beyond the session’s main purpose to address, for example, the issue of how new forecasters can be attracted and educated to maintain the staffing of the infrastructure.
SPACE WEATHER DATA, INFRASTRUCTURE, AND SERVICES PROVIDED FORSPACE WEATHER SITUATIONAL AWARENESS AND FORECASTING
NASA and NOAA Roles
Space weather data are currently provided by assets controlled by government organizations in both the civilian (primarily NASA and NOAA) and the defense sectors (primarily the USAF). NASA relies on a fleet of spacecraft in Earth orbit as well as in orbits around the Sun at 1 AU. See Figure 4.1. Although the NASA missions are all primarily for scientific research, they provide much of the space weather data used by both civilian and military customers. NASA space missions track solar disturbances from their sources on the Sun, follow their propagation through the heliosphere (i.e., interplanetary space), and measure their impacts at Earth. The satellites use a combination of remote sensing observations of the Sun and direct in situ measurements of the solar wind.
FIGURE 4.1 Missions collecting heliophysics data. SOURCE: O.C. St. Cyr, NASA-GSFC, “Current Space Weather Services,” presentation to the space weather workshop, May 22, 2008.