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Severe Space Weather Events—Understanding Societal and Economic Impacts: A Workshop Report
The NASA participants in the workshop noted that NASA would be working closely with NOAA SWPC and others on future exploration missions.
TRANSFER OF THE RESULTS OF NASA’S THEORY ANDMODELING PROGRAMS TO OPERATIONS
Both St. Cyr and Holmes indicated that NASA is currently working to transfer the results of its theory and modeling programs to agencies involved in operations. NASA participates in the multiagency CCMC, a partnership among NASA, NSF, NOAA, the Office of Naval Research, and several USAF organizations. Holmes summarized the activities of the CCMC, which he called the 15th mission of NASA’s Heliophysics Great Observatory, in his presentation. The CCMC is housed at Goddard and provides the opportunity for the developers of state-of-the-art physics models to load their models onto Goddard’s supercomputers and make the results of their runs available to the research and forecasting communities. It is, he believes, a great success story that shows what the community has put together to support the modeling of space weather. A related topic that was mentioned was the transfer of space weather sensor technology initially developed for NASA science missions. Once the sensors have been proven and their data have been tested by the forecasting community, the sensors will be transitioned to the operational agencies.
QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION
The question-and-answer session included a discussion of several issues related to space weather situational awareness and forecasting services. Some of the themes are presented in the examples given here. A two-part question asked, “What is the current status of radiation belt modeling and models … and who is responsible for the work in this area?” Joseph Fennell, a workshop attendee, noted that an ISO (International Organization for Standardization) activity to develop next-generation radiation models was being led by CNES in France, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), the Aerospace Corporation, and others. Hapgood noted that one of the challenges faced in radiation belt modeling was obtaining good magnetic field models that underpin the radiation models.
As in the panel presentations, there was much discussion of data that could be interpreted to get some idea of the space weather situation, but Daniel Baker noted that many users do not want data as much as they want results that they can readily apply. He asked the panel, “How much are you thinking about not providing … close to raw data but [instead] much more integrated [products] that readily provide the answers that operators and users really need?” Murtagh answered that from the NOAA SWPC perspective there are a couple of things to consider. NOAA and the National Weather Service have a responsibility to provide data and a baseline product suite. But, he noted, SWPC has to be very careful that it does not cross into the area where commercial service providers take the opportunity to fine-tune some of the data and products provided by SPWC, an example being space weather services tailored for the power grid industry: even though SWPC can specify the space weather environment, an outside commercial service provider will provide information on the likelihood of a geomagnetically induced current. Keyser noted that for some time the DOD has been creating impact-based products for customers like the Space Command, adding that it is the impacts that the operator flying the satellite or reading the radar screens cares about. St. Cyr reiterated that NASA’s Living With a Star (LWS) program targets research and technologies and tries to bridge the “valley of death,” the gap between research and operational tools. He noted that during the Space Weather Week meeting in Boulder (April 2008) a new model had been unveiled that had LWS support. The presentations made it clear that while there is much space weather data available, the number of tailored products that meet known user needs is limited but also is rapidly evolving.
Another question that generated considerable interest dealt with whether a formal educational program existed for prospective space weather forecasters and budding service providers. Fennell noted that the Air Force tries to develop such people within its organization by offering extended education at Air Force expense. Keyser acknowledged that the Air Force production of space weather experts had declined. He remarked that he was probably one of youngest people in the room, noting at the same time that the audience, which included many of