space weather

Space weather starts at the sun, beginning with an eruption of light and radiation called a solar flare or a gigantic cloud of solar material called a coronal mass ejection. The effects of those eruptions deal an impact on Earth. Scientists monitor such space weather events as geomagnetic storms, solar radiation storms and radio blackouts caused by these immense explosions on surface of the sun.

Space weather forecasting legislation led by two Coloradans, Republican Sen. Cory Gardner and Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter, is headed to the president's desk.

The House on Wednesday passed the Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow Act.

Space weather can cause disruptions to the power grid, radio signals and air traffic radar and GPS systems, causing millions upon millions in disruptions and damages.

The bill directs federal agencies to find ways to improve forecasting and measure space weather disturbances and what that means to Earth, with a strategy and steps "across the federal government" on space weather research.

"Importantly, this legislation will integrate the expertise of the academic community and the commercial space weather sector in the development and execution of the integrated strategy," Perlmutter's office said Wednesday.

Perlmutter sponsored the House bill with Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican from Alabama. Gardner carried the Senate bill with Sen. Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan. The Senate passed the bill on July 27.

“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 research and prediction capabilities possible,” Perlmutter said in a statement. “This legislation will better coordinate federal research investments with our operational forecasters who provide warnings to impacted industries and ensure our academic, international, and commercial partners are working hand in hand to improve space weather forecasting, including with some of the best laboratories and research institutions on space weather right here in Colorado.”

Perlmutter introduced the bill in 2017 and passed it out of committee in January.

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