Solar activity and resulting magnetic storms have wide-ranging impact on our everyday activities and intelligence and surveillance defense activities. They can severely damage our communications, navigation, and electrical power
systems; oil drilling processes and pipelines; and spacecraft and orbiting satellites. Solar storms cause hundreds of millions of dollars in economic losses annually.
Because of the impact of space weather on our systems and on the well-being of astronauts and pilots, we need the capability of predicting disruptive
solar activity. Just as we now routinely rely on our daily weather forecast, we
may at some time in the future also routinely tune into to a daily space weather forecast. Such solar-activity jargon as
"Minimal solar flare activity today
"Massive coronal ejections will trigger excessive energetic particles in our atmosphere tomorrow"
may become the norm.
Various governmental and science-based programs are developing space weather prediction models in preparation for such routine forecasting. One such research program is Living With a Star (LWS), part of NASA's Sun-Earth-Connection theme. LWS is a space weather-focused program that addresses the aspects of our Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the United States
Department of Defense are currently responsible for providing space weather
services to NASA and industries that rely on such information in their
operations. For next-generation prediction services, the Community Coordinated Modeling Center
(CCMC) has been established to bridge the gap between the research community
and the operational arms of national agencies. The CCMC is being designed to
aid in the generation and implementation of the most complex and highest
priority space weather models. The Center provides the means to make space
weather models operational.
The interactions between Sun and Earth, and between solar particles and
delicate instruments, have become factors that affect our health, safety, and commercial needs. The major
aspects of space weather must be considered when designing and maintaining
our communications, meteorological, and military satellites.