Jul 17, 2019 | Updated: 08:39 AM EDT

US Senate Passes Space Weather Bill, Aims To Protect Critical Infrastructure From Solar Storms

May 08, 2017 04:50 AM EDT

The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) is deployed from the Space Shuttle Discovery in September 14, 1991 in space.
(Photo : NASA/Getty Images)

The US Senate unanimously approved a bill called the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act, more known as the Space Weather Bill, last May 2. This bill is intended to support space weather research and plans to protect critical infrastructures from the recurring solar storms.

In an article published by Space News, the US Senate passed the Space Weather Bill with a unanimous consent. The bill also cleared the Senate Commerce Committee last January, which happens to have approved a similar bill last 2016.

The Space Weather Bill was written to outline roles and responsibilities for different US government agencies. It aims for the various agencies to conduct research, forecast and respond to space weather, which could affect communications, the power grid, and other systems.

In addition, The Space Weather Bill was built upon a national space weather strategy and action plan. This was released back then by the administration of former US President Barack Obama in October 2015.

The Space Weather Bill will direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in developing options to replace solar imaging data that was provided by the aging Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, aircraft that was launched for more than two decades ago. NOAA pursues through its Space Weather Follow-On program that received $5 million in its fiscal year 2017 omnibus spending bill released last May 21. It also shows that it doubled the amount in NOAA's original request.

"I am pleased the Senate approved this common-sense, bipartisan legislation that will help ensure federal agencies are able to protect against extreme space weather," Sen. Gary Peters of Michigan, the lead sponsor of the bill, said in a statement last May 2. He also urged the House of Representatives to approve the Space Weather Bill quickly so that the country could prepare to predict and avoid a possible worst case scenario space weather event.

Besides Peters, Space Weather Bill's co-sponsors are Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota. Despite the change in administrations, NOAA and NASA officials said that there would be no changes in the implementation of space weather action plan.

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