The US government has recently signed the PROSWIFT Act (Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow). The new act will see federal agencies like NASA, NOAA, and the Defense Department work closely with private companies to both study the damaging affects things like solar flares could have on the Earth while also conducting research into forecasting these events and developing technology to withstand their effects.
This new bill is significant because a severe space weather event, such as a solar flare or coronal mass ejection, has the potential to seriously disrupt the electric power grid, communications networks including cellular phones and GPS, satellites, and aircraft operations.
I’m proud to see my PROSWIFT Act signed into law. Space weather can cause great damage to our infrastructure and our economy, and we need to make sure we are all working together to have the best possible research and prediction capabilities.https://t.co/HqEJk4Qo1c
— Rep. Ed Perlmutter (@RepPerlmutter) October 26, 2020
According to Senator Gardner, “Space weather events stand to present significant economic and national security implications, with the potential to disrupt essential services, communications, and technologies we rely on every day. Today I’m proud to see our bipartisan bill signed into law to help bolster our country’s ability to predict and address these events.”
During the signing of the bill, Gardner sighted an estimate by Lloyds of London that found in a worse-case scenario, the damage caused by space weather could cost up to $2.6 trillion through elements like air traffic issues, nationwide blackouts, and satellite disruptions.
The new bill will also see the different space agencies develop new plans for a backup of the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite, which after 25 years is nearing the end of its life.