Space weather bill passed by US Congress to improve forecasting, mitigation

September 17, 2020  - By
The effects of space weather on critical Earth systems. (Image: NASA)

The effects of space weather on critical Earth systems. (Image: NASA)

The United States Congress has passed bipartisan legislation to address how the government deals with threats posed by emissions from the Sun to critical infrastructure such as GPS.

The Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow (PROSWIFT) Act S.881 now awaits signature by the president.

The bill sets forth provisions to improve the ability of the United States to forecast space weather events and mitigate its effects.

It provides statutory authority for the National Science and Technology Council’s Space Weather Operations, Research, and Mitigation Working Group, which coordinates executive branch efforts to understand, prepare, coordinate, and plan for space weather.

The bill directs the Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Science Foundation, Air Force, Navy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Security Council, and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to carry out specified space weather activities.

The legislation

  • assigns roles and responsibilities to agencies involved in space weather research and forecasting
  • ensures agency coordination to better predict severe space weather events and mitigate impacts
  • calls for coordination between the government and the non-governmental space weather community including academia, the commercial sector and international partners.

Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the first version of the bill in 2016 and a successor passed the Senate in 2017. Reps. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Mo Brooks (R-AL) shepherded it through the House, which passed it Sept. 16.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.