• The communication systems will just fail if you cannot have accurate space forecasts. Sensing this difficulty the scientists at #-Link-Snipped-# are planning to install Ensemble Forecast Capability - the first ever by any space agency. The technique which is commonly used by meteorologists has become a necessity owing to the solar storms.

    Chief space weather forecasters Yihua Zheng and Antti Pulkkinen are helping to implement a computer technique 'Ensemble Forecasting. It will improve NASA’s ability to predict the path and impact of severe solar storms. | Image Credit: NASA/ Chris Gunn

    The project to have the forecasting ability installed at the center is supported by NASA's Space Technology Program. With everything from power generation to communication coming under intense solar radiations, accurate space forecast has gained the utmost importance. The sun attained its solar minimum three years back in 2008 and since then, the star is increasing its activity. Recently on August 4, earth sustained three Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) within 48 hours. Luckily, these CMEs produced only moderate geomagnetic storm. Had there been a direct impact on earth, the gigantic bubbles of millions of tons of charged particles would have had much adverse effect on our satellites and power grids.

    The forecasting ability will improve NASA's predictions about path and impact of solar storms. The present forecasts are made by the space laboratory Goddard's Space Weather Laboratory based on real time data of various different agencies. The data primarily comes from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. However the main problem being that the team is unable to have continuous stream of data. Moreover, there are also some inaccuracies in the data leading to forecasts that are far away from the conditions arising out of solar storms.

    Implementing Ensemble Forecasting capability would mean that the scientists are able to tweak conditions and generate whole new parameters. They will be able to study the CMEs better with changed speed, propagating direction and angular extent. The team analyzing forecast will also be able to know about the uncertainties in their predictions. Following these advantages, the team at Goddard has installed computer facilities to run the system. However, it will take about three years to completely install this state-of-art facility.

    Even though it might sound a bit late, there is no other way that the things can be worked out. The solar storms are a reality and accurate space weather prediction is more necessary than ever. It is also required to save space equipment, astronauts hence the space missions. Once the capability is tested by space weather center, it will be made available to Homepage | NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center, responsible for issuing national space weather alerts in US.
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