S48 Space Weather and Technological Impacts

Sunday, 23 January 2011
Jennifer Meehan, Utah State University, Logan, UT; and G. Fisher and W. J. Murtagh

Space Weather, which refers to the variable conditions on the Sun and in the space environment, can influence the performance and reliability of space-borne and ground-based technological systems, as well as endanger life or health. Further, space weather can significantly impact the electric power industry, aviation, navigation and communication systems, satellites, and space flight. For example, solar storms and ionospheric disturbances can have a tremendous effect on Global Positioning System (GPS) operations by causing signal delays, increasing errors in timing, position, and navigation, as well as total loss of signal ultimately resulting in total navigational failure. Such errors can lead to immense impacts on railway control, highway traffic management, precision agriculture, emergency response, commercial aviation, and marine navigation which all require and depend almost solely on GPS services. Aware of such risks, many industries are now concerned with space weather impacts on the once thought “all weather proof” GPS system. In this presentation we provide an overview of space weather, its overall technological impacts, and a closer look at GPS industry impacts and concerns. Analysis of the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center navigation customers and the recent AMS Policy Program workshop, “Satellite Navigation & Space Weather: Understanding Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience” allows us to gain a better understanding of how the GPS industry is vulnerable to space weather and how we can potentially avoid disasters.
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