NOAA signs CRADA for use of SOLAR2000

NOAA signs CRADA for use of SOLAR2000

BETHESDA, MARYLAND – Federal Data Corporation announced the signing of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Environment Center (SEC) headquartered in Boulder, CO. This agreement will enable FDC and the SEC to jointly develop a Solar Irradiance Specification Tool derived from SOLAR2000, an empirical solar radiation forecasting model developed by FDC scientists.

The specification tool will use SEC and non-SEC environmental data to produce near-real-time daily measurements of solar radiation across the full spectrum from X-rays to the radio wavelengths. The FDC model also enables forecasting of future solar radiation for periods ranging from 72 hours to eleven years. These irradiation measurements and forecasts can be combined with other environmental and general space physics models to help satellite, communications, electric power and other industries better predict and respond to solar activity affecting their operations. The tool will be compliant with the emerging International Standards Organization (ISO) solar irradiance standard.

NOAA’s role will be to provide consistent and timely data to FDC for use in the SOLAR2000 data and distribute the daily SOLAR2000 spectrum as part of the suite of NOAA space weather products. In the near-term, the primary NOAA data set will be the Mg II core-to-wing ratio which is an index of solar chromospheric activity. Later in the program, NOAA will provide broad-band EUV measurements from a new instrument on the GOES spacecraft. These data will be used in the SOLAR2000 model to create solar spectra. ‘NOAA will provide the ‘nowcast’ and FDC will offer a web-based forecast,’ said Dr. W. Kent Tobiska, director of FDC’s space weather programs and Principal Investigator (PI) for the CRADA. He added that once a day NOAA will display on its web site at what the Sun’s spectrum looks like for that day. These spectra will be available to everyone for use in upper atmospheric and ionospheric models. According to Dr. Rodney Viereck of NOAA and Principal Investigator (PI) for the CRADA, ‘the lack of good solar EUV data has been one of the primary obstacles to creating more accurate models of the upper atmosphere.’

Tobiska indicated that nowcasting will be available in mid-2001 and forecasting will be available at the end of 2001. According to Tobiska, while there are ‘varying levels of accuracy in the irradiances for different forecast time scales,’ prediction of solar activity will help us prepare for blasts of radiation that can affect satellite orbits, disrupt radio telecommunications, and interfere with GPS navigation systems. Longer term predictions can also specify the levels of radiation hazards to aircraft and spacecraft flight crews throughout different periods of the solar cycle. ‘We have entered an era where our global economy is increasingly dependent on technologies and industries affected by changes in ‘space weather’. Our vision is to be the world leader in space weather information and forecast technologies, and thus reduce some of the risk to these industries.’, Tobiska concluded.

The duration of the CRADA is for three years with a three-year option. The joint project team is comprised of SEC employees Rodney Viereck (PI), Tim Fuller-Rowell, and Joe Kunches and FDC representatives Kent Tobiska (PI) and Dave Bouwer. SpaceWx is headquartered in Los Angeles CA. For more information about the company, including the engineering and scientific services they provide, contact Dr. Kent Tobiska.

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