Innovative space weather monitoring projects receive UKRI funding
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced funding for five projects focused on improving the UK’s capability to predict and mitigate the hazards of space weather. The projects will incorporate new research to further develop the space weather models used by the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre.
The projects are part of the first phase of the Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk (SWIMMR) programme, a £20 million, four-year programme led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) with the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The aim is to improve the UK’s capabilities for space weather monitoring and prediction.
There will be an emphasis on space radiation, which can affect aircraft systems, changes in the upper atmosphere, affecting communications, satellite orbits and surges in the current of power grids and other ground-level systems. These are significant risks to the infrastructures we rely on in daily life and are recorded in the UK’s National Risk Register.
The five projects are together worth close to £9 million and funded by NERC, which is part of UKRI. Improving the accuracy of predicting when and where space weather events take place should allow the Met Office to issue warnings and advice sooner, allowing operators more time to take necessary action, such as manoeuvring satellites and isolating parts of the power network to ensure the least amount of disruption possible.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway yesterday said;
“Satellites are fundamental to our everyday lives, underpinning technologies we constantly rely on from mobile phones to GPS. Any disruptions caused by space weather can therefore have a profound impact on businesses and individuals.
“These fantastic projects that we are backing today will enhance the UK’s ability to forecast space weather, enabling our excellent national weather service to defend the technologies we all depend on.”
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