£20m funding to accelerate British research into forecasting space weather

Economy & Politics | International | South East | Technology

British satellites will be better protected through a £20m boost to predict severe space weather events, the PM has announced whilst at the UN General Assembly today.

Space weather, such as flares or winds from the Sun’s surface or geomagnetic storms, can damage our satellites and cause power disruptions, issues to air transportation, and problems across communications systems, such as GPS and mobile phone networks.

The £20m announced today nearly quadruples investment from government into research that can improve systems at the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre. This will build the UK’s knowledge on how to forecast and better prepare for these space weather events.

This new fund will be used to look closely at space weather innovation, measurement, modelling and risk assessment. By predicting when and where space weather events take place, the Met Office can issue warnings and advice that will allow operators to take necessary action, such as manoeuvring satellites and isolating parts of the power network to ensure the least amount of disruption possible.

The UK will also be able to share forecasts with other space weather centres around the world, including the US Space Weather Prediction Centre.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “From solar flares to magnetic storms, space weather can have a massive impact on mobile phones, transport, GPS signals and the electricity networks we rely on every day at home. The funding announced today will help turn Britain’s pioneering research into practical solutions that will protect against any adverse disruption caused by cosmic chaos.”

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