Library Fact Sheets
2ND WEATHER SQUADRON, SPACE WEATHER FLIGHT|
Printable Fact Sheet
Forecasters in the Space Weather Flight, 2nd Weather Squadron, 2nd Weather Group at the Air Force Weather Agency, look at the sun's emissions and provide mission-tailored analyses, forecasts and warnings. Their products are used for mission planning and environmental situational awareness by National agencies, Department of Defense operators, warfighters, and decision makers.
The key functions of the Space Weather Flight include space situational awareness, solar event forecasting and warning, and satellite anomaly assessments. Solar emissions, which include flares and coronal mass ejections, can have the following effects:
· Electrical anomalies and degrading of components to satellites and other equipment in orbit above the protective levels of the atmosphere
· Impact on electromagnetic signals influencing High Frequency communication, satellite Ultra High Frequency communication, and Global Position Satellite navigation signals
· Increased drag on satellites in low-earth orbit
· Increased interference or false returns to sunward or poleward looking radars
· Potential health impact of radiation exposure to high-altitude aviators and those flying over polar regions
Although solar emissions can occur at any time, the sun undergoes an 11-year activity cycle. The next solar peak, or period of maximum activity, is expected around 2012 to 2014. This heightened activity creates an increase in solar emissions traveling to and interacting with the Earth's atmosphere. Solar emissions also cause the Aurora Borealis or "Northern Lights." However, most interactions are not visible to the human eye.
AFWA space weather technicians located at Offutt AFB, Neb., and at solar observatories around the globe never let the sun slip from view. Each month, they provide updated space weather information on the Internet for military and DoD personnel issuing approximately 100 textual and graphical products warning of significant solar activity. Under these conditions, the environmental situational awareness of space weather can be as important as thunderstorms or other terrestrial weather phenomena to our Nation's military.
Air Force Weather is committed to providing a complete terrestrial and space weather program, characterizing the environment from "the mud to the sun."
55th Wing Public Affairs
109 Washington Square, Suite 221
Offutt Air Force Base, NE
Com'l: (402) 294-3663