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NOAA Readies for Addition to its Space Weather Toolkit

18 Sep 2020, 09:13 UTC
NOAA Readies for Addition to its Space Weather Toolkit
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An artist’s rendering of the SWFO-L1 satellite. (Credit: NOAA)

SILVER SPRING, Md. (NOAA PR) — NOAA is planning an advanced satellite that will improve forecasts and warnings for potentially damaging solar activity while perched in a Sun-facing orbit a million miles from Earth.

When it launches in 2024, the Space Weather Follow-On (SWFO-L1), will be NOAA’s first satellite observatory dedicated exclusively to operational space weather. It will be equipped with instruments that sample the solar wind, provide imagery of coronal mass ejections, and monitor other extreme activity from the Sun in finer detail than before.

SWFO-L1, which will orbit at the Lagrange Point 1 (L-1)—roughly one million miles from Earth toward the Sun—will continue and improve upon the observational monitoring service of NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) launched in 2015 and the joint European Space Agency-NASA Solar and Heliophysics Observatory mission launched in 1995, both of which are in extended service.

“Without timely and accurate warnings, space weather events can disrupt nearly every major public infrastructure system, including power grids, telecommunications, aviation and countless GPS-reliant technologies,” said Elsayed Talaat, who manages NOAA’s space weather mission and is the director of the Office of Projects, Planning and Analysis at ...

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