First-Ever GPS Space-Weather Data Released For Public

Posted: Jan 31 2017, 7:05am CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
First-Ever GPS Space-Weather Data Released for Public
This is an image illustrating the six orbital planes in which GPS satellites ('navigational satellites,' or ns) fly around Earth. This configuration shows the orbits just before the start of this solar cycle's biggest geomagnetic storm, which occurred on March 17, 2015. The darkest orbital lines indicate the position of the satellites in that moment; the lightest lines indicate where they were 12 hours prior. Credit: Los Alamos National Laboratory
  • 16 years of space-weather data is publicly available for the first time in history

The Los Alamos National Lab has revealed almost 16 years of GPS information regarding radiation in outer space.

This day in time, space-weather information that spans a total of 16 odd years and holds a treasure trove of valuable data has been released for public survey by the Los Alamos National Lab. Its space weather sensors fitted in the GPS satellites have collated all this data.

This way scientists will know how exactly space weather works. Also many items of infrastructure will be offered more efficient protection and safeguarded from adverse space weather.

At present, 23 of the more than 30 GPS satellites have space-weather sensing instruments fitted in their eletronic repertoire. When the satellites are combined with the number of sensing devices and time period spent collating data, it amounts to a grand total of 167 satellite years.

Space weather has the potential to have adverse effects on the earth and its human-built technology. Radiation is especially quite a big threat that emanates from the sort of conditions that prevail in outer space.

Charged particles released during a solar flare may cause damage to insruments aboard airplane flights on earth. Also CMEs or Coronal Mass Ejections and solar wind have the capacity to shut down extensive power grids.

Everything from air traffic to water supply and medical equipment that was meant to save lives could be disturbed by these space weather phenomena.

Every satellite of the Los Alamos National Lab had a specific life span since the radiation in outer space eventually damaged its instruments beyond recognition.

One such glitch in a satellite occurred about half a dozen years back. The magnetic disturbance was also a threat to the other satellites in the vicinity. The GPS sensors implanted on the satellites measure the rates of protons and electrons that come travelling through the harsh conditions of space.

The measurements provide a ton of data that still remains unsifted. Since the 90s, the Los Alamos National Lab has recognized the potential threats coming from space weather.

Some of the space weather events are devastating in their scope since they tend to disable entire systems made by man on the planet. Therefore the more we get to know about these phenomena via research, the better we will be able to eventually deal with them to the best of our abilities.

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