(roughly US$5 million to $6 million) that is more reflective of a research and development (R&D) enterprise than an operational enterprise with real-time national space weather prediction responsibility. Despite the small and unstable funding that limits capabilities, the SWPC has experienced a steady growth in its customer base, even during the years of solar minimum when disturbance activity is lower.
Bogdan pointed out that the U.S. federal government has chosen to coordinate space weather activities through the National Space Weather Program (NSWP), participated in by eight agencies including NASA, the Department of Commerce (NOAA), the Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Energy, the Department of State, and the Department of Transportation. The NSWP operates under the auspices of the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology. The federal government has designated the SWPC as the single point of responsibility for space weather forecasting and prediction for the civil and commercial communities.
As background, a search shows that a strategic plan for the NSWP was developed in 1995 by the National Space Weather Program Council (FCM-P30-1995, August 1995) and was followed in 1997 by an implementation plan (FCM-P31-1997, January 1997) that identified specific objectives and recommended activities necessary for improving space weather predictive capabilities. The 2000 Implementation Plan (FCM-P31-2000, July 2000) identified some 70 targeted space weather research proposals funded by the agencies involved in the NSWP to improve understanding of the space weather environment. Despite the progress made up to that time, the 2000 Implementation Plan reported that capabilities fell short of the requirements for warning, now-casting, forecasting, and post-event analysis, and that in many areas significant shortfalls remained and much work needed to be done. One reason is that agencies involved in the NSWP fund their own activities but do not contribute funding directly to the SWPC for meeting identified user needs.
NASA funds at several hundreds of million dollars annually the development of science satellites and provides extensive and essential real-time data on space weather to the SWPC that are used in its predictions and forecasts. NASA also funds extensive efforts to model the space environment but is not responsible for funding or contributing to the SWPC’s data preparation and alert-reporting capabilities. The National Science Foundation funds the development of models of the space environment but does not provide funding support for SWPC data analysis or operations. The USAF funds the development and operations of space weather sensors in the Defense Meteorological Satellites Program and provides the data to the SWPC. It supplies rather modest funding for data preparation and reporting capabilities through the AFWA and also does provide some modest support to the SWPC for selected operations of interest involving the ACE satellite. NOAA funds at an annual level of US$45 million to $65 million the development of space weather instrumentation flown on weather satellites, such as those in the GOES series, and those data are provided as part of SWPC forecasts. The other agencies in the NSWP, the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior, do not provide any funding to the SWPC toward satisfying direct user needs.
The core mission of the SWPC as stated by Bogdan is to:
Assess, survey, analyze, and evaluate the best available data on solar weather;
Evaluate what the needs are, what the research community can bring forward in the way of models and theory, and what real-time data NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and Russian satellites can provide now and in the future on the solar wind, solar particles, and x-rays;
Design, fabricate, test, validate, and install new products and services that meet the needs of the user community; and