Getting more accurate forecasts about space weather may not help you decide whether to water your garden, but it could soon clue you in better to when events in the solar system may be putting a damper on your electronic activities.
Johns Hopkins University, Boeing, and Iridium Communications announced on Wednesday that they have launched a new space-based service that they say will help scientists monitor magnetic storms around Earth.
Dubbed the Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment (AMPERE), the system utilizes commercial satellites orbiting Earth to take magnetic-field measurements in real time. The result is output that gets scientists one step closer to accurate, year-round tracking of space weather and the effects it can have on the planet, including disruptions to telecommunications service and the electrical power grid.
“Solar storms can disrupt satellite service and damage telecommunications networks, cause power grid blackouts and even endanger high-altitude aircraft,” Brian J. Anderson, principal investigator at Johns Hopkins, said in a statement. “The next wave of solar storms will occur over the next three to five years and recent solar activity is just the beginning of a long, stormy space weather season.”