House Science Committee Approves Space Weather Bill

Space weather effects. (Credit: ESA/Science Office)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The House Science Committee has unanimously approved a bill designed to enable the federal government to coordinate its monitoring of and response to space weather events.

The Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow Act (PROSWIFT Act) would establish a space weather inter-agency working group that would include representatives of NOAA, NASA, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, Department of the Interior, and other relevant agencies.

Space weather occurs when solar flares and coronal mass ejections disrupt Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in the degrading of communications networks, power grids, GPS, and aircraft operations.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) would be in overall charge of coordinating the work of the new inter-agency group and formulating strategies “to improve the ability of the United States to prepare for, avoid, mitigate, respond to, and recover from potentially devastating impacts of space weather,” the bill states.

The members of the inter-agency group would be responsible for working more closely with international, academic and commercial partners in researching, preparing for, and mitigating space weather.

The bill would also establish a 15-member advisory committee made up of five members apiece of the academic, commercial weather and end user communities.

The House bill must now been reconciled with a similar measure, the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act, that the Senate Commerce Committee approved in April. The Senate bill contains a number of additional provisions that are not in the House measure.