In the 2010 NASA authorization bill from the US Congress was a request for an assessment of the space weather observational and forecasting ability and the impact space weather may have on Earth systems. At the end of April 2013, the Joint Action Group for Space Environmental Gap Analysis (JAG/SEGA) assembled by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy released their report on the state of space weather systems and how they are likely to develop over the next ten years.
The JAG incorporated individuals from all major US agencies involved in space weather issues, spearhead by the US Air Force (USAF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The group looked at existing space and ground infrastructure and already underway projects to maintain or upgrade those systems. They considered best case scenarios in which all planned upgrades were executed as intended and worst case scenarios in which none of the planned upgrades took place. The authors were quite clear about the stakes:
“In other words, the Nation is at risk of losing critical capabilities that have significant economic and security impacts should these key space weather observing systems fail to be maintained and replaced. Considering the rapidly growing dependency on space-based and space-enabled systems, which have permeated most facets of modern society, space weather observing and forecasting capabilities used to mitigate potential impacts will become even more critical in the future.”
The overall message of the study appears to be that current maintenance and upgrade projects may be adequate to retain the current level of operability and forecasting capability, but they will only be possible with complete funding and are inadequate to advance the state of the science and its applications.
Read the full report below, or download it here.