[108th Congress House Hearings]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office via GPO Access]
[DOCID: f:90161.wais]

WHAT IS SPACE WEATHER AND
WHO SHOULD FORECAST IT?

=======================================================================

HEARING BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY,
AND STANDARDS

COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS

FIRST SESSION

__________

OCTOBER 30, 2003

__________

Serial No. 108-31

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Printed for the use of the Committee on Science

Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.house.gov/science

______

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COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE

HON. SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York, Chairman
LAMAR S. SMITH, Texas RALPH M. HALL, Texas
CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania BART GORDON, Tennessee
DANA ROHRABACHER, California JERRY F. COSTELLO, Illinois
JOE BARTON, Texas EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
KEN CALVERT, California LYNN C. WOOLSEY, California
NICK SMITH, Michigan NICK LAMPSON, Texas
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, Maryland JOHN B. LARSON, Connecticut
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan MARK UDALL, Colorado
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota DAVID WU, Oregon
GEORGE R. NETHERCUTT, JR., MICHAEL M. HONDA, California
Washington CHRIS BELL, Texas
FRANK D. LUCAS, Oklahoma BRAD MILLER, North Carolina
JUDY BIGGERT, Illinois LINCOLN DAVIS, Tennessee
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
W. TODD AKIN, Missouri ZOE LOFGREN, California
TIMOTHY V. JOHNSON, Illinois BRAD SHERMAN, California
MELISSA A. HART, Pennsylvania BRIAN BAIRD, Washington
JOHN SULLIVAN, Oklahoma DENNIS MOORE, Kansas
J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
PHIL GINGREY, Georgia JIM MATHESON, Utah
ROB BISHOP, Utah DENNIS A. CARDOZA, California
MICHAEL C. BURGESS, Texas VACANCY
JO BONNER, Alabama
TOM FEENEY, Florida
RANDY NEUGEBAUER, Texas
——

Subcommittee on Environment, Technology, and Standards

VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan, Chairman
NICK SMITH, Michigan MARK UDALL, Colorado
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota BRAD MILLER, North Carolina
JUDY BIGGERT, Illinois LINCOLN DAVIS, Tennessee
WAYNE T. GILCHREST, Maryland BRIAN BAIRD, Washington
TIMOTHY V. JOHNSON, Illinois JIM MATHESON, Utah
MICHAEL C. BURGESS, Texas ZOE LOFGREN, California
VACANCY RALPH M. HALL, Texas
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
ERIC WEBSTER Subcommittee Staff Director
MIKE QUEAR Democratic Professional Staff Member
JEAN FRUCI Democratic Professional Staff Member
OLWEN HUXLEY Professional Staff Member
MARTY SPITZER Professional Staff Member
SUSANNAH FOSTER Professional Staff Member
AMY CARROLL Professional Staff Member/Chairman’s Designee
ADAM SHAMPAINE Majority Staff Assistant
MARTY RALSTON Democratic Staff Assistant

C O N T E N T S

October 30, 2003

Page
Witness List…………………………………………….. 2

Hearing Charter………………………………………….. 3

Opening Statements

Statement by Representative Vernon J. Ehlers, Chairman,
Subcommittee on Environment, Technology, and Standards,
Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives………… 8
Written Statement…………………………………….. 9

Statement by Representative Mark Udall, Minority Ranking Member,
Subcommittee on Environment, Technology, and Standards,
Committee on Science, U.S. House of Representatives………… 10
Written Statement…………………………………….. 11

Statement by Representative Gil Gutknecht, Member, Subcommittee
on Environment, Technology, and Standards, Committee on
Science, U.S. House of Representatives……………………. 12

Panel:

Dr. Ernest Hildner, Director, Space Environment Center, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Oral Statement……………………………………….. 13
Written Statement…………………………………….. 15

Colonel Charles L. Benson, Jr., Commander, Air Force Weather
Agency
Oral Statement……………………………………….. 24
Written Statement…………………………………….. 26

Dr. John M. Grunsfeld, Chief Scientist, National Aeronautics and
Space Administration
Oral Statement……………………………………….. 28
Written Statement…………………………………….. 30

Mr. John G. Kappenman, Manager, Applied Power Systems, Metatech
Corporation
Oral Statement……………………………………….. 32
Written Statement…………………………………….. 34

Captain Henry P. (Hank) Krakowski, Vice President of Corporate
Safety, Quality Assurance, and Security, United Airlines
Oral Statement……………………………………….. 50
Written Statement…………………………………….. 53

Dr. Robert A. Hedinger, Executive Vice President, Loral Skynet,
Loral Space and Communications Ltd.
Oral Statement……………………………………….. 55
Written Statement…………………………………….. 57

Discussion
Space Environment Center (SEC) Funding……………………. 71
The Appropriate Organization for Forecasting Space Weather….. 71
SEC Budget Compared to Other Federally Funded Programs……… 73
Private Sector Interaction With the SEC…………………… 74
SEC Improvements Within the Current Budget………………… 75
Sensors Aboard the Aging Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE)
Spacecraft…………………………………………… 76
Vulnerability to Industry From Space Weather Events………… 77
Vulnerability to Federal Agencies From Space Weather Events…. 78
Relationship With the International Community……………… 79
The Vital Role and Responsibilities of the SEC…………….. 79

Appendix 1: Biographies, Financial Disclosures, and Answers to Post-
Hearing Questions

Dr. Ernest Hildner, Director, Space Environment Center, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Biography……………………………………………. 82
Response to Post-Hearing Questions……………………… 83

Colonel Charles L. Benson, Jr., Commander, Air Force Weather
Agency
Biography……………………………………………. 84
Response to Post-Hearing Questions……………………… 86

Dr. John M. Grunsfeld, Chief Scientist, National Aeronautics and
Space Administration
Biography……………………………………………. 87
Response to Post-Hearing Questions……………………… 89

Mr. John G. Kappenman, Manager, Applied Power Systems, Metatech
Corporation
Biography……………………………………………. 91
Financial Disclosure………………………………….. 95

Captain Henry P. (Hank) Krakowski, Vice President of Corporate
Safety, Quality Assurance, and Security, United Airlines
Biography……………………………………………. 96
Financial Disclosure………………………………….. 97

Dr. Robert A. Hedinger, Executive Vice President, Loral Skynet,
Loral Space and Communications Ltd.
Biography……………………………………………. 98
Financial Disclosure………………………………….. 99

Appendix 2: Additional Material for the Record

Article for the Record Submitted by Mr. Ehlers, “Two Geomagnetic
Storms Hitting the Planet,” The Washington Post, October 25,
2003………………………………………………….. 102

Article for the Record Submitted by Mr. Ehlers, “Cloud of Solar
Gas Strikes Our Planet,” The Washington Post, October 25, 2003 104

Submitted Testimony of U.S. Commercial Satellite Imaging Industry 106

Submitted Testimony of the American Meteorological Society……. 107

Submitted Testimony of the Satellite Industry Associations……. 109

Submitted Testimony of Lockheed Martin……………………… 111

Submitted Testimony of SES Americom………………………… 114

Submitted Testimony of Space Environment Technologies………… 116

Submitted Testimony of the Electric Power Research Institute….. 118

Submitted Testimony of the National Center for Atmospheric
Research………………………………………………. 121

Submitted Testimony of the Metatech Corporation……………… 125

Submitted Testimony of the University of Michigan, College of
Engineering……………………………………………. 127

Submitted Testimony of the Aerospace Industries Association…… 128

Submitted Testimony of Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp…….. 132

Submitted Testimony of Tom Anderson, Colleyville, TX…………. 135

Submitted Testimony of Daniel N. Baker, Director, Laboratory for
Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder. 136

Submitted Testimony of Murray Dryer, Space Physics Consultant,
Greenwood Village, CO…………………………………… 137

Submitted Testimony of Dr. Craig D. “Ghee” Fry, Vice President,
Exploration Physics International, Inc. (EXPI)…………….. 139

Submitted Testimony of Captain Bryn Jones, A340 Captain and
Cosmic Radiation Program Manager, Virgin Atlantic Airways
Limited……………………………………………….. 141

Submitted Testimony of J. Michael Thurman, Lamar, AR…………. 142

Submitted Testimony of Ramon E. Lopez, C. Sharp Cook
Distinguished Professor, Department of Physics, University of
Texas, El Paso…………………………………………. 144

Submitted Testimony of Robert Sobkoviak, Plainfield, IL………. 146

Submitted Testimony of David F. Webb, ISR; Boston College…….. 147

WHAT IS SPACE WEATHER AND
WHO SHOULD FORECAST IT?

———-

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2003

House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Environment, Technology, and
Standards,
Committee on Science,
Washington, DC.

The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10 a.m., in Room
2318 of the Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Vernon J.
Ehlers [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.

hearing charter

SUBCOMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT, TECHNOLOGY, AND STANDARDS

COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE

U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

What Is Space Weather and

Who Should Forecast It?

thursday, october 30, 2003
10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
2318 rayburn house office building

Purpose

On October 30, 2003 at 10:00 a.m., the House Science Committee’s
Subcommittee on Environment, Technology and Standards will hold a
hearing to examine the space weather activities at the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Environment Center. The
Space Environment Center (SEC) provides real-time monitoring and
forecasting of solar and geophysical events. These events can: cause
damage to communication satellites, electric transmission lines and
electric transformers; interfere in ground-based communications with
airline pilots; be fatal to astronauts on space flights and in the
International Space Station; and potentially harm airplane passengers
flying polar routes. SEC forecasts are used by the U.S. military, the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), NOAA itself, and
by the industries mentioned above. For example, just last Wednesday
(October 22), the SEC released two-day advanced warnings about an
unusually large solar storm, which allowed electrical utilities,
airlines, and spacecraft managers to take preventive action to minimize
disruption of service due to the storm. (See attachment.)
The Air Force Weather Agency works closely with NOAA’s SEC on the
collection of space weather data through satellite and ground-based
sensors and provides warnings tailored for specific military needs. The
Air Force relies on the SEC for data analysis and overall forecasting.
The Air Force and NOAA each contribute to the cost of sensors to
monitor space weather, and NASA provides many of the satellites on
which the sensors are carried.
In the House Fiscal Year (FY) 2004 Commerce, Justice and State
(CJS) appropriations bill, SEC funding levels are below the
Administration’s request. The Senate CJS Appropriations Committee
report includes the suggestion that the Air Force or NASA should take
on the duties of predicting space weather and contains no funding for
SEC. Thus, budget constraints could force the closure or reduction of
these vital and unique services provided by NOAA’s SEC. The
Subcommittee wants to better understand the potential impact of the
loss of SEC services.
The Subcommittee plans to explore several overarching questions,
including:

1. LWhy do we need to understand and forecast space weather
events?

2. LWhat unique capabilities and expertise does NOAA’s SEC
provide? To what extent could the Air Force or NASA perform
these duties?

3. LWhat are the implications of closure or reduced activities
of NOAA’s SEC to the government and private sector?

Witnesses:

Dr. Ernest Hildner, Director, Space Environment Center, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Boulder, Colorado. Dr.
Hildner will provide an overview of the SEC, the services it provides
and its collaborations with other federal agencies.

Col. Charles L. Benson, Jr., Commander, Air Force Weather Agency,
Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. Colonel Benson will explain the
mission of Air Force Space Weather Operations Center and the way the
Air Force and NOAA work together on space weather prediction.

Dr. John M. Grunsfeld, Chief Scientist, National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA). Dr. Grunsfeld will discuss the effects of space
weather on NASA operations.

Mr. John Kappenman, Manager, Applied Power Systems, Metatech
Corporation, Duluth, Minnesota. Mr. Kappenman will discuss the effects
of space weather events on electric power grid systems and how the loss
of NOAA’s SEC would affect this industry. Mr. Kappenman was formerly
with Minnesota Power.

Captain Hank Krakowski, Vice President of Corporate Safety, Quality
Assurance, and Security, United Airlines, Chicago, Illinois. Captain
Krakowski will discuss how space weather events affect the airline
industry, including air traffic control communications and human health
concerns. He also will discuss how the loss of NOAA’s SEC would affect
United Airlines operations.

Dr. Robert Hedinger, Executive Vice President, Loral Skynet,
Bedminster, New Jersey. Dr. Hedinger will explain the implications of
space weather events for communications satellites and how the loss of
NOAA’s SEC would affect the commercial satellite sector.

Background

What Is Space Weather?
Space weather refers to conditions on the sun and in the solar
wind, which can cause disturbances in the outer layers of the Earth’s
atmosphere. Highly energized particles from the sun disrupt the upper
layers of the Earth’s atmosphere, causing geomagnetic storms that
result in increased radiation and rapid changes in the direction and
intensity of the Earth’s magnetic field. These conditions can influence
the performance and reliability of space-borne and ground-based
technological systems and can endanger human life or health. Government
and private sector organizations concerned with communications,
satellite operations, electric power grids, human space flight, and
navigation use space weather information.

History of NOAA’s Space Environment Center
NOAA’s Space Environment Center (SEC), located in Boulder,
Colorado, began in the 1940’s as a program to study short-wave radio
propagation at the National Bureau of Standards (now known as the
National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST). As the SEC
expanded its scope to study the effects of solar weather on the Earth’s
atmosphere, the center moved into the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric
Research in NOAA, where it is currently located. The SEC consists of
three divisions: research and development, space weather operations,
and systems. The SEC has 54 NOAA staff and two Air Force liaisons in
its Boulder office. In a 2002 report, the National Academy Sciences,
called the work of the SEC “crucial.”
NOAA’s SEC collects, provides, and archives space environment data
from its polar-orbiting and geostationary satellites, from other
federal agencies, and through international data exchange. Forecasters
at SEC provide space weather forecasts and warnings to users in
government and industry and to the general public, while the Air Force
and private sector users take these forecasts and tailor them for their
organizations’ specific needs. SEC’s space weather operations division
is the national and international warning center for disturbances in
the space environment that can affect people and equipment. The effects
of these disturbances are described in more detail below. The research
and development division is home to the leading experts in space
weather. They conduct research in solar-terrestrial physics, develop
techniques for forecasting solar and geophysical disturbances, provide
real-time monitoring and forecasting of solar and geophysical events,
and prepare data to be archived by NOAA’s National Geophysical Data
Center.

Air Force Space Forecast Center
NOAA’s SEC works closely with the U.S. Air Force’s Space Forecast
Center at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, which provides space
weather forecast services to U.S. military customers. The total budget
for Air Force space weather efforts was $15.3 million in FY 2003. The
Air Force provides two personnel who work at the SEC to ensure that
this vital space weather information is fed smoothly to the Air Force,
which then tailors it for military purposes. For example, NOAA’s SEC
may issue a warning that a geomagnetic storm will occur in the Earth’s
atmosphere at a certain time. The Air Force will use this information
to make recommendations about military satellites that should be turned
or powered down, or military operations that should be suspended until
the storm passes.

NASA Operations
NASA requires information about space weather to make decisions
regarding the space shuttle and International Space Station (ISS)
operations. For example, astronauts conducting space walks could be
killed if they were exposed to high levels of radiation. Additionally,
astronauts inside the ISS may have to take special precautions during a
solar storm. In fulfilling its research mission, NASA flies many of the
sensors used to collect space weather data on its research satellites.
National Space Weather Program (NSWP)
Previous reviews of the space weather program have concluded that
NOAA should continue to run the civilian space weather forecasting
operation.
For example, in 1997, an interagency working group developed “The
National Space Weather Program Implementation Plan,” under which NOAA
was to continue to run civilian space weather programs and the Air
Force was to continue to run such programs for the military. The
interagency group included NOAA, the National Science Foundation, the
Department of Defense, NASA, the Department of Energy, the Department
of the Interior, and the Department of Transportation.
Similarly, in its 2002 report, “The Sun to the Earth–and Beyond:
A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics,” the National
Academy of Sciences recommended that NOAA not only continue to forecast
space weather but that NOAA should do more to coordinate the
development of the sensors that are used to make its forecasts.
Specifically, the Academy recommended that NOAA and NASA initiate a
plan to transition solar monitoring sensors from their current location
primarily on research satellites to operational satellite programs.

The SEC Budget Situation
The Space Environment Center is funded through NOAA’s Office of
Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR). In FY 2003, the SEC received
$5.2 million (a reduction of $2 million below FY 2002 levels). For FY
2004, the Administration requested $8 million for NOAA’s SEC. At this
time, the FY 2004 appropriations process is ongoing in Congress. The
House Commerce, Justice, State (CJS) bill, passed in July, provides
$5.2 million for the SEC (same level as FY 2003). The Senate CJS bill,
reported out by the full committee, recommends no funding for SEC and
suggests that the Air Force or NASA should assume the responsibility of
forecasting space weather. Funding for some of the sensors and
satellites that provide data to the SEC is already provided by other
agencies, such as NASA and the Air Force, but NOAA’s SEC is the
national center for data collection and forecasting of space weather
events.

Why Do We Need Space Weather Forecasts From NOAA’s SEC?
Electric Power Grids
The first recorded evidence of space weather effects on technology
was in 1859, when a major failure of telegraph systems in New England
and Europe coincided with a large solar flare. More recently, on March
13, 1989, geomagnetically induced currents in Canadian transmission
lines set off a cascade of broken circuits, causing loss of power for
the entire Hydro-Quebec power grid. The blackout affected six million
customers and cost Hydro-Quebec more than $10 million.
In 1998, a similar geomagnetic storm was headed for Earth. This
time, thanks to data from new sensors and improved forecast models,
NOAA’s SEC forecasters were able to alert electric power customers 40
minutes before the storm hit the Earth. In response, electric power
utilities diverted power and increased safety margins on certain parts
of the grid to avoid stress on the power system.

Satellite Operations
In addition to electric power grid operations, human activities
dependent on satellites are affected by space weather. This includes
everything from communications to satellite-television. Research done
at NOAA’s SEC has helped provide the government and other satellite
operators with data on storms to help understand whether a failed
satellite was due to mechanical problems or space weather.
Additionally, the satellite industry uses space weather forecasts to
determine the timing of rocket launches to avoid sending a multi-
million dollar satellite into orbit at the peak of a solar storm.

Communications Satellites
Solar storms cause disturbances in the Earth’s ionosphere that can
affect the orbital path of low-orbit spacecraft, creating operational
and tracking problems and sometimes shortening the useful life of a
satellite. For example, in May 1998 loss of telephone pager service to
45 million customers was caused by a solar storm. During the Gulf War
in 1991 military forces reported high frequency radio communications
interruptions due to ionization storms, and in January 1994 an extended
period of high electron levels caused failure of two Canadian
communications satellites, which interrupted telephone, television, and
radio service for several hours.

Airline Industry
Airlines are concerned about space weather because it can disrupt
satellite and ground-based communication systems, which allow air
traffic controllers to talk directly to pilots. Federal regulations
require airlines to maintain communication capability with their
aircraft at all times. Additionally, navigation systems can be affected
by space weather events. Finally, because of the curvature of the
Earth, planes flying from North America to Asia generally make flights
over the North Pole, where passengers can be susceptible to higher
doses of solar radiation than traditional non-polar flights. United
Airlines reports that for the 21-month period from January 2002 through
September 2003 there were approximately 140 flights that were or could
have been affected by space weather events.

Questions for Witnesses

Dr. Ernest Hildner, Director, Space Environment Center, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

1. Please provide an overview of NOAA’s Space Environment
Center (SEC). What research programs are performed at the
center? What operational services are provided by the center?

2. Please describe the different types of solar weather events
and specifically explain the time it takes for them to travel
to the Earth. What is the lead-time we currently have for
reacting to or mitigating the effects of solar weather? Please
provide historical examples of when space weather events have
affected human activities.

3. Who are the users of SEC products and information?

4. Please describe the relationship between the SEC, NASA, and
the Air Force Weather Agency, including a specific explanation
of the role of each agency in understanding and predicting
space weather.

5. If the FY04 final appropriation for the SEC was the $5.2
million recommended in the House bill, what would be the impact
on SEC services?

Col. Charles L. Benson, Jr., Commander, Air Force Weather Agency

1. Please provide an overview of the Air Force Space Weather
Services provided through the Air Force Weather Agency.

2. Please describe the relationship between NOAA’s Space
Environment Center (SEC), NASA, and the Air Force Weather
Agency, including a specific explanation of the role of each
agency in understanding and predicting space weather.

3. Who are the users of Air Force space weather products and
information?

4. Are there any technical barriers to the Air Force Weather
Agency taking on the duties of the SEC if it were no longer
funded through NOAA? Given that the Air Force’s capabilities
are designed for military purposes, how would you have to adapt
your practices to provide SEC-like services to the civilian
sector?

5. What would be the impacts on the Air Force and overall
military operations if SEC no longer existed? Please provide
specific examples when possible.

Dr. John M. Grunsfeld, Chief Scientist, National Aeronautics and
Space Administration (NASA)

1. Please provide an overview of how space weather can affect
NASA operations, including examples of historical events that
have caused problems.

2. How does NASA use data and products from NOAA’s Space
Environment Center (SEC)? In general, how much lead time do you
need to make decisions for mitigating the effects of space
weather?

3. How would you compare our knowledge today of the impacts of
space weather on NASA operations to what we knew five years
ago, and to what we expect to know five years from now?

4. What would be the impact to NASA if SEC were no longer able
to provide its space weather forecasts to you? Please provide
specific examples when possible.

5. Are there any technical barriers to NASA taking on the
duties of the SEC if it were no longer funded through NOAA?
Given that NASA’s mission is research oriented, how would you
have to adapt your practices to provide SEC operational
services?

Mr. John Kappenman, Manager, Applied Power Systems, Metatech
Corporation

1. Please provide an overview of how space weather can affect
electric power grid systems, including examples of historical
events that have caused problems.

2. How does your organization use data and products from
NOAA’s Space Environment Center (SEC)? In general, how much
lead time do you need to make decisions for mitigating the
effects of space weather?

3. How would you compare our knowledge today of the impacts of
space weather on electric power grid systems to what we knew
five years ago, and to what we expect to know five years from
now?

4. What would be the impact to your organization and the
electric power grid industry if SEC were no longer able to
provide its space weather forecasts to you? Please provide
specific examples when possible.

Captain Hank Krakowski, Vice President of Corporate Safety, Quality
Assurance and Security, United Airlines

1. Please provide an overview of how space weather can affect
airline operations, including examples of historical events
that have caused problems.

2. How does your organization use data and products from
NOAA’s Space Environment Center (SEC)? In general, how much
lead time do you need to make decisions for mitigating the
effects of space weather?

3. How would you compare our knowledge today of the impacts of
space weather on airline operations to what we knew five years
ago, and to what we expect to know five years from now?

4. What would be the impact to your organization if SEC were
no longer able to provide its space weather forecasts? Please
provide specific examples when possible.

Dr. Robert Hedinger, Executive Vice President, Loral Skynet

1. Please provide an overview of how space weather can affect
satellite operations, including examples of historical events
that have caused problems.

2. How does your organization use data and products from
NOAA’s Space Environment Center (SEC)? In general, how much
lead time do you need to make decisions for mitigating the
effects of space weather?

3. How would you compare our knowledge today of the impacts of
space weather on satellite operations to what we knew five
years ago, and to what we expect to know five years from now?

4. What would be the impact to your organization if SEC were
no longer able to provide its space weather forecasts? Please
provide specific examples when possible.

Chairman Ehlers. This hearing will come to order. Good
morning. Welcome to the oversight hearing entitled: “What Is
Space Weather and Who Should Forecast It?” And if you don’t
know what it is, you can go out and look outside and you will
get some idea of what space weather is. Well, I wanted to make
it clear, since I have been asked this, that the solar storm
that is currently underway did not start the fires in
California.
As a physicist, I must admit that when we began to plan for
this hearing last month, I did not think it would conjure much
attention outside of the scientific community. However, thanks
to Divine Intervention, we now have major solar storm activity
to coincide with the hearing. We certainly hope that the lights
will stay on and our webcast capabilities will not be
diminished during the course of this hearing.
The purpose of the hearing is to examine the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s, better known as NOAA,
Space Environment Center. This center, abbreviated SEC, but not
to be confused with buying and selling stocks, provides real-
time monitoring and forecasting of solar storms. The SEC is
located with other NOAA labs in Boulder, Colorado in the
District of Mr. Udall, the Subcommittee Ranking Member sitting
directly to my right.
Many of us may think of solar eruptions as a curiosity or
as the source of the beautiful Aurora Borealis often observed
by residents in the northern U.S. However, as highlighted by
recent media attention, these solar events can have serious
repercussions for Earth-based technological systems. They cause
geomagnetic storms in the Earth’s atmosphere that can disrupt
communication systems, cause surges on electric power grids,
and be harmful to airline passengers and astronauts. NOAA’s SEC
provides vital space weather forecasts for civilian industries
concerned with these effects. Additionally, SEC forecasts are
used by the Air Force to provide tailored recommendations for
military users concerned with space weather. For example, I
believe the current space storm was predicted a good two days
before it began.
Despite its important role in protecting the Nation’s
technological systems from geomagnetic storms, some here in
Congress have proposed to reduce or eliminate funding for
NOAA’s SEC. In the House fiscal year 2004 appropriations bill
for NOAA, SEC funding levels are 35 percent below the
Administration’s request of $8 million. Of even greater
concern, the Senate Appropriations Committee bill contains no
funding for SEC and includes the suggestion, without any
justification, that the Air Force or the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration, better known as NASA, should take on
the duties of predicting space weather.
Today, we will hear from representatives of NOAA, the Air
Force, and NASA about the roles of each agency in monitoring
and forecasting space weather. Then we will hear from
representatives of three industries that rely on SEC forecasts:
the electric power grid industry, the airline industry, and the
communications satellite industry. These experts will help us
to better understand the impact of space weather on the Earth
and its surroundings and to examine the question of who should
be responsible for forecasting it.
Before we hear from our Ranking Member and our witnesses, I
wanted to show a short movie clip of the most recent solar
flare to set the mood for today’s hearing. So we will now show
that. I am not quite sure how that is going to show up in the
transcript of the hearing, but we will take a quick look.
[Video]
Chairman Ehlers. Thank you very much. If I might mention
yesterday, just out of curiosity, I went to the site, the solar
site, and looked at one of the images. I took my little ruler
and measured the diameter of the sun and the size of the flare
compared to the sun. Then did a quick mental calculation. I
can’t guarantee this is accurate, and I probably shouldn’t even
say it, but my quick mental calculation indicated that the size
of the flare, as apparent from that particular picture, was
approximately 60 Earth diameters. That gives some startling
idea of the scale of this. If the Earth had been there, it
would have been an insignificant dot compared to the size of
the flare. And that indicates the strength of the storms that
we deal with.
Before I will recognize my Ranking Member, I also want to
mention that we are going to have problems with the House
schedule today. I understand that we are likely to have a vote
in approximately 20 minutes, and unfortunately, we are very
Pavlovian here; when the bells ring, we go vote. We will simply
have to suspend the hearing while we go vote. We may well be
interrupted by other votes later, but we will try to proceed as
expeditiously as we can.
The Chair now recognizes Mark Udall, the Ranking Minority
Member on the Environment, Technology, and Standards
Subcommittee for his opening statement.
[The prepared statement of Chairman Ehlers follows:]

Prepared Statement of Chairman Vernon J. Ehlers

Good morning! Welcome to this oversight hearing entitled, “What Is
Space Weather and Who Should Forecast It?” As a physicist, I must
admit that, when we began to plan for this hearing last month, I did
not think it would garner much attention outside the scientific
community. However, thanks to divine intervention, we now have major
solar storm activity to coincide with the hearing. We hope the lights
will stay on, and our webcast capabilities will not be impacted.
The purpose of the hearing is to examine the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration’s (better known as NOAA) Space Environment
Center. This center, abbreviated SEC, provides real-time monitoring and
forecasting of solar storms. The SEC is located with other NOAA labs in
Boulder, Colorado, in the district of Mr. Udall, the Subcommittee
Ranking Member.
Many of us may think of solar eruptions as a curiosity, or as the
source of the beautiful Aurora Borealis often observed by residents in
the northern U.S. However, as highlighted by recent media attention,
these solar events can have serious repercussions for Earth-based
technological systems. They cause geomagnetic storms in the Earth’s
atmosphere that can disrupt communication systems, cause surges on
electric power grids, and be harmful to airline passengers and
astronauts. NOAA’s SEC provides vital space weather forecasts for
civilian industries concerned with these effects. Additionally, SEC
forecasts are used by the Air Force to provide tailored recommendations
for military users concerned with space weather.
Despite its important role in protecting the Nation’s technological
systems from geomagnetic storms, some here in Congress have proposed to
reduce or eliminate funding for NOAA’s SEC. In the House Fiscal Year
2004 appropriations bill for NOAA, SEC funding levels are 35 percent
below the Administration’s request of eight million dollars. Of even
greater concern, the Senate Appropriations Committee bill contains no
funding for SEC and includes the suggestion, without any justification,
that the Air Force or NASA should take on the duties of predicting
space weather.
Today we will hear from representatives of NOAA, the Air Force and
NASA about the roles of each agency in monitoring and forecasting space
weather. Then we will hear from representatives of three industries
that rely on SEC forecasts–the electric power grid industry, the
airline industry, and the communications satellite industry. These
experts will help us to better understand the impact of space weather
on the Earth and to examine the question of who should be responsible
for forecasting it.

Mr. Udall. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good morning to the
panel and all of you who have assembled here to attend this
important hearing. I want to begin by thanking the Chairman for
holding this hearing. And of course, I have to thank him, also,
for his impeccable timing. He managed to arrange for the sun
spot activity last week to occur and then the solar flare this
week has really given us a firsthand understanding of the
importance of space weather and the need for the space weather
forecasting services provided by NOAA’s Space Environment
Center, the SEC. And I would think, Mr. Chairman, this SEC is
at least as important as the other SEC, particularly over the
long-term as we have learned more about space weather.
Sunspots, geomagnetic storms, and solar flares, the
phenomena of space weather, used to be a topic solely in the
province of space scientists. While we have experienced the
effects of these phenomena in the past, we had no ability to
monitor or forecast these storms or to anticipate their likely
effects. Some of you here know about the large solar flare that
was generated in 1859, September of 1859, which shorted out
telegraph wires in the U.S. and in Europe. And caused numerous
fires.
Today, because of the importance of communications,
electricity, and transportation to our daily lives, a similar
storm would have devastating impacts in the absence of space
weather forecasting. Satellites, transformers and transmission
lines, and the billion dollar infrastructure that supports
these essential services, are all vulnerable to space weather
events. The SEC’s forecasts enable government and private
sector operators to take actions to minimize disruptions in
service and damage to critical infrastructure.
The SEC’s annual budget, really of a mere $8 million, seems
modest when we evaluate it in the context of the Nation’s
investment in space weather monitoring and research and in
comparison to the billions of dollars of infrastructure and
services that are vulnerable to space weather events.
After investing millions of dollars and many years of
research on space weather, we are now able to monitor solar
storms and forecast their nature and intensity. Eliminating the
SEC or drastically cutting its budget does not save money; it
actually wastes taxpayer investments in research by cutting off
the service that is currently delivering real benefits. Cutting
the SEC’s budget reverses, in my opinion, and I believe the
opinion of many people here and people around the country, our
progress in space weather forecasting, putting billions of
dollars of infrastructure and services at risk.
This committee, in my opinion, should endorse the
Administration’s fiscal year 2004 budget request
enthusiastically for those reasons. We should also continue to
support research to improve space weather forecasting and to
expand our knowledge of space weather and its potential
impacts.
While the space weather forecasting discipline is still in
its infancy, we still–it is no less essential than terrestrial
weather forecasting. If we do not continue to invest in space
weather forecasting, we will not only enjoy gazing at the
Northern Lights, but we will risk experiencing widespread
blackouts. Let us keep the lights on, the planes flying, and
the communications flowing by fully investing in the Space
Environment Center and its vital research and forecasting
activities.
Mr. Chairman, I am also aware of a number of people with
interests in space weather who wish to contribute to the record
for this hearing. Therefore, I would ask unanimous consent that
the record for this hearing be open–held open for 10 days to
enable trade groups, private citizens, academics, and industry
representatives to submit material to the record.
Chairman Ehlers. So ordered.
Mr. Udall. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
In conclusion, the witnesses we have here today will help
us to better understand the phenomena and potential impacts of
space weather events on our government activities and on our
economy. We have an excellent panel of witnesses for our
hearing today. I want to thank you all for taking your time to
appear before the Subcommittee this morning, and I do look
forward to your testimony.
With that, Mr. Chairman, I would yield back any time I have
remaining.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Udall follows:]

Prepared Statement of Representative Mark Udall

Good morning.
First, I would like to express my thanks to the Chairman for
holding this hearing and to congratulate him on his timing. I don’t
know how you managed to arrange for the sun spot activity last week,
Mr. Chairman, but the solar flare that reached Earth this past week
illustrates the importance of space weather and the need for the space
weather forecasting services provided by NOAA’s Space Environment
Center (SEC).
Sun spots, geomagnetic storms, and solar flares–the phenomena of
space weather–used to be a topic solely in the province of space
scientists. While we have experienced the effects of these phenomena in
the past, we had no ability to monitor or forecast these storms or to
anticipate their likely effects. For example, a large solar flare
generated in September of 1859 shorted out telegraph wires in the U.S.
and in Europe causing numerous fires.
Today, because of the importance of communications, electricity,
and transportation to our daily lives, a similar storm would have
devastating impacts in the absence of space weather forecasting.
Satellites, transformers, and transmission lines–and the billion
dollar infrastructure that supports these essential services are all
vulnerable to space weather events. The SEC’s forecasts enable
government and private sector operators to take actions to minimize
disruptions in service and damage to critical infrastructure.
The SEC’s annual budget of $8 million seems modest when we evaluate
it in the context of the Nation’s investment in space weather
monitoring and research and in comparison to the billions of dollars of
infrastructure and services that are vulnerable to space weather
events.
After investing millions of dollars and many years of research on
space weather, we are now able to monitor solar storms and forecast
their nature and intensity. Eliminating the SEC or drastically cutting
its budget does not save money. It wastes taxpayer investments in
research by cutting off the service that is currently delivering real
benefits. Cutting the SEC’s budget reverses our progress in space
weather forecasting, putting billions of dollars of infrastructure and
services at risk.
This Committee should endorse the Administration’s FY04 budget
request, enthusiastically. We should continue to support research to
improve space weather forecasting and to expand our knowledge of space
weather and its potential impacts.
While space weather forecasting is still in its infancy, it is no
less essential than terrestrial weather forecasting. If we do not
continue to invest in space weather forecasting, we will not only enjoy
gazing at the Northern lights, but we will also risk experiencing
widespread blackouts. Let’s keep the lights on, the planes flying and
communications flowing by fully funding the Space Environment Center
and its vital research and forecasting activities.
Mr. Chairman, I am also aware of a number of people with interests
in space weather who wish to contribute to the record for this hearing.
Therefore, I ask unanimous consent that the record for this hearing be
held open for ten days to enable trade groups, private citizens,
academics and industry representatives to submit material to the
record.
The witnesses we have here today will help us to better understand
the phenomena and potential impacts of space weather events on our
governmental activities and on our economy. We have an excellent panel
of witnesses for our hearing today. I thank you all for appearing
before the Subcommittee this morning and I look forward to your
testimony.

Chairman Ehlers. All right. If there is no objection, all
additional opening statements submitted by the Subcommittee
Members will be added to the record. Without objection, so
ordered.
At this time, I would like to introduce our witnesses. We
will begin with a special introduction by our Ranking Member,
Mr. Udall.
Mr. Udall. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to take this time to acknowledge Dr. Hildner, who is
here from my hometown of Boulder. Dr. Hildner is the Director
of NOAA’s Space Environment Center, the SEC, we have been
mentioning. It is located in Boulder, as I mentioned. Dr.
Hildner is a solar physicist who has worked for the High
Altitude Observatory at NCAR, which is also based in Colorado,
and at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama where he
was the head of its Solar Physics Branch. He was an
experimental scientist for Skylab and the Solar Maximum Mission
during the 1970’s. Dr. Hildner’s scientific specialty is
coronal and interplanetary physics about which he has published
dozens of papers. Last year, the National Academy of Sciences
called the work of the SEC “crucial.” Under Dr. Hildner’s
steady watch, the Center continues to do its crucial work very
well, though recent budget cuts have made his job, and the jobs
of NOAA’s SEC staff more difficult.
I look forward to hearing from Dr. Hildner today as he
helps us understand the importance of the Space Environment
Center.
Welcome, Dr. Hildner.
Chairman Ehlers. And with that background, he can tell me
later whether my mental calculation was correct.
Next, it is my pleasure to introduce Colonel Charles L.
Benson, Junior. He is the Commander of the Air Force Weather
Agency at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. Following him is
Dr. John M. Grunsfeld, Chief Scientist of the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration, better known, of course,
by its acronym, NASA. The next witness to be introduced by the
honorable gentleman from Minnesota, Mr. Gutknecht.
Mr. Gutknecht. Well, thank you, Chairman Ehlers.
And I just want to welcome the panel. And Chairman Ehlers
and I have had the opportunity to go out and visit the NOAA
center out in Boulder, and we were duly impressed with the work
that is done.
But it is my honor today to introduce John Kappenman from
Metatech Corporation in Duluth, Minnesota. For those of you who
have never had the chance to go to Duluth, Minnesota, it is one
of the most beautiful cities, not only in Minnesota, but, I
think, in the country. And if you don’t get a chance to go to
Duluth and visit the city, or go fishing in the beautiful
waters of Lake Superior, at least you can go to my website and
you can see a very large lake trout, which I caught there about
two months ago. And I am very proud of that picture. And it is
on the front page of my website.
For the past 27 years, Mr. Kappenman has researched
electronic power system impacts caused by widespread
geomagnetic field disturbances due to space weather. Since
1997, he has been employed with Metatech Corporation where he
has advised folks worldwide on how to protect technology and
power grid systems.
We all look forward to your testimony, and we welcome you
here to Washington.
Chairman Ehlers. Thank you, Mr. Gutknecht.
I now understand the reason for the low lake levels in the
Great Lake system: you are taking all of the fish out of them.
Next, it is my pleasure to introduce Captain Hank
Krakowski. He is the Vice President of Corporate Safety,
Quality Assurance, and Security for United Airlines located in
Chicago, Illinois. And our final witness is Dr. Robert
Hedinger. He is the Executive Vice President of Loral Skynet
out of Bedminster, New Jersey.
As our witnesses should know, I presume you have been
briefed, testimony is limited to five minutes each,
particularly with a large panel like this, so we ask that you
honor that request. And the little device here will show green
for the first four minutes, yellow for the next minute, and
then it turns red and all sorts of bad things happen. So we
request that you try to keep it to five minutes each.
We will start with Dr. Hildner.

STATEMENT OF DR. ERNEST HILDNER, DIRECTOR, SPACE ENVIRONMENT
CENTER, NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

Dr. Hildner. Good morning, Chairman Ehlers and Members of
the Subcommittee. And thank you, Mr. Udall, for your kind
introduction. As Director of the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration Space Environment Center, I am
pleased to join these other witnesses and you today for the
hearing on SEC’s role in providing operational space weather
information to the United States. We believe that NOAA is the
proper home for the Nation’s space weather service.
The extensive media coverage of recent radiation and
geomagnetic storms clearly illustrates the Nation’s need for
accurate, reliable, and timely space weather forecasting. The
effects of space weather, as you have already indicated, are
far ranging. We know that airlines, the International Space
Station, nuclear power plants, and at least one satellite were
affected by the recent solar and space weather events. NOAA’s
SEC is the central focus of information for these kinds of
events.
[Slide]
The next figure shows that–sorry. I am in control here, I
think.
The next figure in the upper left shows the number of web
accesses to our site. And that spike, over the last several
days, reaches almost ten million hits on our website per day.
Even before the recent activity and the media attention,
customers hit our website over 500,000 times a day, and that is
that lower part on the left. This figure also shows several of
the NOAA products used by radio communicators, by airlines, by
satellite operators, and the various alerts and warning
products issued by SEC in the last week in the upper right.
That figure, which is too small to see, actually tells you how
many times we sent out alerts and warnings to our customers for
our various products.
The recent media coverage of effects show there is a direct
correlation between space weather and the U.S. economy. The
direct global economic impact of space weather has been
estimated very conservatively at $200 million per year. It is
clear that the adverse conditions in the space environment can
disrupt communications, navigation, air travel, national
electric power distribution grids, and satellite operations.
Improved space weather information will assure safety,
reliability, and national security, as my colleagues today will
discuss the benefits of space weather forecasting for their
work.
However, I would like to highlight some important points
about SEC, and one of those is the funding issue that has
already been eluded to. I would be remiss if I didn’t ask for
your assistance. As you stated, the President’s budget
recommends $8.3 million for SEC in fiscal year 2004. The House
Appropriations Committee has recommended $5.3 million, fully $3
million below the President’s request, and the Senate
Appropriations Committee has zeroed out funding entirely.
If either level below the President’s request is enacted,
there will be dramatic consequences for SEC and for the vital
services that it provides. In response to the necessary staff
reductions, NOAA will be faced with the choice of eliminating
SEC’s research and development activities or its services. If
the R&D is cut, NOAA will not be able to improve products,
models, and data streams needed by our customers. On the other
hand, cutting services means that our customers will only
receive data: no value added forecasts, no warnings, no alerts.
Either choice means our effectiveness as a partner to other
government agencies, such as NASA and the Air Force, will drop.
I need to emphasize that zeroing out SEC’s budget will
eliminate the one source of official U.S. space weather alerts,
warnings, and forecasts. Space weather is defined by the
National Space Weather Program as: “Conditions on the sun and
in the solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere
that can influence the performance and reliability of space-
borne and ground-based technological systems and can endanger
human life or health.”
SEC monitors, predicts, and forecasts conditions in the
space environment and provides critical data, space weather
data, to a variety of government and commercial customers. SEC
also conducts research into phenomena affecting the space
environment.
[Slide]
As the next figure indicates, space weather begins to–
space weather begins at the sun, and this animation shows the
brightening of the sun, if you can run the movie, please—-
[Video]
At the time of a flare, the spray of swift energetic
particles and a cloud of solar atmosphere depart the sun. When
it arrives at Earth, it causes a geomagnetic storm, much as
what happened on Wednesday morning this week.
SEC provides services, conducts research and development,
and builds and maintains the computer systems, which support
the Center’s work. SEC’s efforts are focused on areas where
advanced applications can be brought to bear. We continually
monitor. We continually monitor Earth’s space environment with
displays and software driven by the approximately 1,400 data
sets that we receive everyday. The forecasters synthesize
current data, climatological statistics, and relevant research
results to formulate our daily predictions of solar and
geophysical activity.
The future of SEC’s vital role in conducting and
coordinating research in its applications was discussed, as
mentioned earlier, in a recent National Research Council
report, a Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics.
In this report, the NRC recommended that NOAA assume full
responsibility for space-based solar wind measurements and it
should expand its facilities for integrating data into space
weather models.
It looks like my time is up, so let me, in conclusion, say
that the Space Environment Center is the Nation’s unique
civilian provider of critical, real-time information and
forecasts on space weather that affect the United States’
economic, national, and homeland security. We want to remain in
that role.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee,
for this opportunity to testify on this extremely important
matter to NOAA and the Nation. And I would be happy to answer
any questions.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Hildner follows:]

Prepared Statement of Ernest Hildner

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, for the
opportunity to testify before you regarding the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) activities at the Space Environment
Center (SEC). I am Ernest Hildner, Director of the SEC and responsible
for day-to-day management and long-term planning of the Center. Space,
from the Sun to Earth’s upper atmosphere, is a strategic and economic
frontier. This unique environment influences a multitude of human
activities, and its understanding presents numerous scientific
challenges. NOAA’s SEC has a central role in conducting and
coordinating research to understand the space environment to improve
space weather services, and in providing critical operational space
weather services for NOAA and the Nation. SEC strives to understand and
predict the state of the space environment by accumulating data,
running models, applying forecaster insight, conducting applied
research, and utilizing research and data obtained externally to make
operational forecasts of the space environment. Today I will provide an
overview of space weather, of SEC and the services it provides, the
budgetary and science challenges facing SEC, how SEC collaborates with
other agencies, and the value of space weather forecasting and
research. I am pleased to have the chance to discuss these topics
today.

SPACE WEATHER

“Space weather” refers to conditions on the sun and in the
solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere that
can influence the performance and reliability of space-borne
and ground-based technological systems and can endanger human
life or health. Adverse conditions in the space environment can
cause disruption of satellite operations, communications,
navigation, and electric power distribution grids, leading to a
variety of socio-economic losses. National Space Weather
Program Strategic Plan, FCM-P30-1995.

The Earth lies 150 million kilometers, or 93 million miles, from
the Sun, but it is immersed in the extended solar atmosphere. Our
magnetic field resists the continual outflow of ionized gas from the
Sun, protecting us here at the surface. However, the Earth and its
field represent an obstacle to the solar outflow. As a result, the
geomagnetic field is compressed on the sunward side of Earth and drawn
out away from the Sun to make a comet-shaped cavity. As shown in the
artist’s sketch below, the size of the boundary between Earth’s
dominion and the Sun’s varies with the pressure exerted by the Sun’s
outflow.

Space weather storms are spawned by a variety of changes in solar
outputs. First, the light from the Sun, at wavelengths both longer and
shorter than the visible, can brighten abruptly. This light travels to
Earth and affects the near-Earth environment just as we discern that a
solar event has occurred. The photons from a solar flare produce a
radio blackout, at some frequencies, by changing the character of the
dayside ionosphere and upsetting the delicate balance between the Sun’s
otherwise nearly constant output and Earth’s ability to receive and
ingest it.
Solar energetic particles comprise a second type of solar emission.
These particles, predominantly protons, the nuclei of hydrogen atoms,
are accelerated in coronal mass ejections and solar flares. They travel
from the Sun slower than the speed of light, arriving near Earth as
soon as tens of minutes after the solar eruption, the more energetic
particles usually arriving first. The transit from sun to Earth may be
slowed if the intervening magnetic fields do not provide easy Sun-to-
Earth connection; then the particles’ arrival may be delayed many tens
of hours. A major rise in energetic particle flux is commonly referred
to as a radiation storm.
A third type of solar emission that has strong space weather
impacts is magnetized plasma. When the continually evolving solar
magnetic fields abruptly restructure themselves over a broad area, a
portion of the outer solar atmosphere, the corona, can be ejected
violently into space. These coronal mass ejections, clouds of ionized
gas (solar plasma) and their embedded magnetic fields, fly away from
the Sun at 400-1000 kilometers/second (1-2 million miles per hour). If
Earth happens to be in the way, when the cloud strikes Earth’s magnetic
field 2 to 4 days later, then our geomagnetic field is compressed and
may be eroded, resulting in a geomagnetic storm.
The following diagram depicts the times scales associated with
these three types of space weather events.

The diagram illustrates the lead time between the occurrence of the
parent event at the Sun and the terrestrial response; as well as the
watches, warnings, and alerts issued by SEC. Thus, space weather has
several kinds of storms much as meteorological weather has storms as
different as tornadoes, blizzards, and hurricanes. A particular type of
space weather storm has significant impacts on particular technologies
so some customers are impacted by one type of space weather storm but
not by another.
For example, strong x-ray bursts have a serious impact on high
frequency (HF) communications on the dayside of Earth. ARINC, a
provider of air traffic communications capabilities to commercial
airline flights over the North Atlantic, ensures the safety of the
movements of airplanes in flight with communications to the cockpit.
They need to know when the HF communications are being affected due to
natural conditions (space weather) or due to some equipment failure,
and advise aircraft of appropriate frequencies to use. The United
States Coast Guard is alerted by SEC staff during these same types of
episodes as its LORAN navigation system will be unable to provide the
required accuracy to its users during solar flare events. LORAN is
intentionally made unavailable during these disturbed space weather
conditions.
During bursts of solar energetic particles, the second type of
space weather storm, the potential for biological damage due to
elevated solar radiation increases. The NASA Space Radiation Analysis
Group is responsible for assuring that humans in space not receive
anything beyond the lowest reasonable radiation dose. They will advise
the Flight Surgeon at NASA’s Johnson Space Center to alter the activity
plan for the crew if those activities involve leaving the space craft
(for an extra-vehicular activity, or EVA), or suggest moving the crew
to the most highly protected area of the Space Shuttle or International
Space Station during the space weather radiation storm. NASA requires
forecasts and specifications of radiation that affects both humans and
equipment in space.
Another witness will discuss the effects of radiation storms and
communications degradation on the airline industry.
Satellites in orbit and during the launch are at risk from
radiation storms, and I am pleased to see that you have a witness to
discuss those effects of space weather as well.
The third type of space weather storm, caused by the interaction
between the onrushing magnetized plasma from the Sun and Earth’s own
magnetic field, is particularly menacing. This geomagnetic storm can be
thought of as the space weather version of a strong hurricane, as it
has very widespread impacts across a large number of systems and users.
Somewhat like hurricane clouds are monitored from satellites, this
plasma cloud can be seen as it leaves the Sun and it is probed
internally as it is about to make “Earthfall.”
When a coronal mass ejection occurs, forecasters at SEC analyze the
direction of the ejectum to determine whether it is Earth-bound and
estimate the kinetic energy associated with the event. As it takes a
few days for the cloud to reach Earth, there is time for users to take
preventive or mitigating action. One of today’s witnesses will discuss
the effects of geomagnetic storms on the electric power grid.
SEC has been called upon to help investigate possible environmental
causes for disasters. The recently active Shuttle Columbia Accident
Investigation Board asked for testimony to rule out the possibility
that a radiation storm could have affected the Shuttle’s computers
during reentry. More recently, there were inquiries whether the
electrical blackout of the Northeast on August 14, 2003, was caused by
a space weather geomagnetic storm. SEC saw no evidence that it was.
Ironically, however, as the grid was being brought back up to capacity,
on August 18 there was a strong geomagnetic storm that hampered the
ability of the operators to return to normalcy.
Another system impacted during geomagnetic storms is the Wide Area
Augmentation System (WAAS) of the Federal Aviation Administration,
designed for aircraft navigation en route. The WAAS technology relies
on the use of the Global Positioning System (GPS), and GPS accuracy is
adversely affected during geomagnetic storms. In the current solar
cycle, the space weather storm of July 14-15, 2000, was by many
measures the most serious. During this storm, the “Test-bed” WAAS was
unable to determine the position of a receiver on an airplane to the
accuracy required; as a result of the storm, slight changes were made
to the WAAS model based on data received during that solar activity.
The Space Weather Operations group at SEC issues alerts, warnings,
and watches of space weather storms, on a 24/7 basis. Warnings of all
three types of space weather storms are issued when there is high
probability of occurrence. Warnings for radiation and magnetic storms
are aided by the ability to detect the incoming solar wind from a
satellite one million miles upstream, the Advanced Composition Explorer
(ACE). This sentinel allows for a few minutes advance notice of
radiation storms, and up to one hour lead time for magnetic storms.
However, it does not offer any benefit for radio blackouts.
Space weather events such as radio blackouts, radiation storms, and
geomagnetic have affected various technologies and systems in sometimes
spectacular ways. During the last solar cycle, a geomagnetic storm
caused the Hydro-Quebec power grid to black out on March 13, 1989,
leaving six million without electricity for nine hours. The big storms
of March 1989 and July 2000 sent engineers back to their drawing boards
hoping to design better systems to lessen the damage. A space weather
radiation storm in August 1972 could have been even more damaging,
possibly lethal. This event occurred between the lunar flights of
Apollo 16 (April 16, 1972) and Apollo 17 (December 16, 1972).
Biologists have calculated that the radiation received by astronauts,
had they been on the moon at the time of the storm, would have caused a
quick death. Good luck averted a disaster.
The frequency of occurrence of space weather storms, and the
possible consequences of the storms, are indicated in the NOAA Space
Weather Scales document attached to this testimony and available on
SEC’s website at http://www.sec.noaa.gov.

SEC OVERVIEW

What we now call “space weather” began to affect widely used
technology during World War II, disrupting the newly developed
communication and radar systems. After the War, the Central Radio
Propagation Laboratory was set up in the National Bureau of Standards
in Boulder, Colorado, coalescing federal activities dealing with space
weather. A portion of this unit, by then named the Environmental and
Solar Data Service, was folded into the Environmental Science Services
Agency (ESSA) when it was formed in the 1960s. Daily forecasting of the
space environment for the public commenced in 1965. ESSA was rolled
into NOAA when NOAA was formed in 1970, and the SEC is the result.
NOAA’s mission “To understand and predict changes in the Earth’s
environment. . .to meet our nation’s economic, social, and
environmental needs” includes space weather. Just as NOAA’s
tropospheric weather service does for its customers, NOAA’s space
weather service monitors and predicts conditions in the space
environment for its customers. SEC carries out its role as the Nation’s
official source of space weather alerts and warnings under various
legislative mandates, statutory authorities, and Department of Commerce
Reorganization Plans that gave the authority to monitor and predict the
space environment to NOAA. Currently, SEC is both a research laboratory
in NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) and one of
the National Weather Service’s (NWS) National Centers for Environmental
Prediction. SEC’s products are distributed via e-mail, its Web site,
the NWS Family of Services, time and frequency standards radio stations
WWV and WWVH, and the NOAA Weather Wire; pager service to notify
customers when SEC issues an alert is available from a commercial
provider.
SEC is also a member of the International Space Environment Service
(ISES), which has 12 Regional Warning Centers around the world to take
observations and provide services of regional interest. Daily, the
regional centers share their data and tentative predictions with SEC,
which synthesizes the information and, as the World Warning Agency,
issues the global forecast of space weather conditions. ISES traces its
parentage to the International Council of Scientific Unions; its
Regional Warning Centers are funded by their host countries.
NOAA’s space weather service is analogous to its tropospheric
weather service, and both antedate the formation of NOAA itself. Both
serve civilian government, public, and industrial users, and both have
links to military and academic partners. For both services, NOAA was
deemed to be the proper home. Using NOAA’s and others’ sensors, the SEC
continually monitors and daily forecasts Earth’s space environment and
provides accurate, reliable, and useful solar-terrestrial information
to their customers. SEC acquires, interprets, synthesizes, and
disseminates monitoring information to serve the Nation’s need to
reduce adverse effects of solar-terrestrial disturbances on human
activities. It prepares and disseminates forecasts and alerts of
conditions in the space environment. SEC conducts research into
phenomena affecting the Sun-Earth environment including the emission of
electromagnetic radiation and particles from the Sun, the transmission
of solar energy to Earth via solar wind, and the interactions between
the solar wind and Earth’s magnetic field, ionosphere, and atmosphere.
It conducts research and development in solar-terrestrial physics and
in techniques to improve monitoring and forecasting, prepares high-
quality data for national archives, and uses its expertise to advise
and educate those affected by variations in the space environment. When
events warrant, watches, warnings, and alerts are issued for the use of
operators whose systems may be adversely affected by space weather
storms. These user groups are private, commercial, government, and
military operators, concerned with electric power distribution, high-
frequency radio communications, satellite operations, astronaut
protection, radio navigation, and national security.
The SEC, however, faces a number of challenges to meeting the needs
of the user groups mentioned above. These challenges include budgetary
challenges, particularly the potential of cuts in the President’s
budget request for SEC in the FY 2004 appropriations bills; and,
scientific challenges.
The President requested $8.291 million total for the SEC in FY
2004. However, the House Appropriations Committee has recommended FY04
funding of $5.298 million for SEC, while the Senate Appropriations
Committee zeroed out funding for SEC. If the House Committee level of
$5.298 is enacted, there will be dramatic consequences for SEC and the
vital services that it provides. The House mark of $5.298 million would
support staffing of only about 25 FTEs, down from the 53 FTEs requested
in the President’s budget. In the short-term, most non-labor SEC costs
are fixed.
Downsizing to the House Appropriation’s Committee’s recommended
level, NOAA and SEC would attempt to preserve, as much as possible, the
Nation’s investment in the current space weather monitoring network by
continuing to acquire, ingest, process, disseminate, and provide to
archives the copious data with breaking the continuity of 30 years
worth of measurements. This activity currently consumes about half of
SEC’s budget. Therefore, the shortfall created by an appropriation of
$5.3 million would be borne either by research and development or by
operations. NOAA and SEC will be forced to choose between the least
undesirable of two options described below. In either case, SEC’s data
handling capability for ingest, processing, and archive would degrade.
Eighty percent of Air Force alerts are driven by data provided only by
SEC. The space weather data ingest and distribution network, identified
by Homeland Security as a part of the Nation’s Critical Infrastructure,
would face imminent failure. For example, under each option,
irreplaceable coverage gaps in real-time Solar Wind data would result,
as satellite tracking shrinks, reducing alerts of geomagnetic storms
affecting communications and GPS accuracy.
In the first reduction option, NOAA would eliminate SEC’s research
and development while continuing operational services with no
improvement. Verification of and technique development to use Solar X-
ray Imager (SXI) data would cease. When operational, the SXI takes
images of the sun once a minute, providing additional data needed to
more accurately forecast and alert users to space weather events. The
Global Assimilation of Ionospheric Measurements (GAIM) model currently
being developed would not become available to civilian users. This
model will provide global specification and forecasts of the ionosphere
in 3-dimensions, where presently only in-situ measurements and
climatological models are available. NOAA participation in the National
Space Weather Program will cease. SEC will not be able to provide
improvements to products and models supporting airlines, power
companies, navigation, and other critical services. NOAA will be unable
to transition into operations the physics based models developed at
national centers and universities by NSF, NASA, and DOD-supported
scientists. In addition, SEC’s website, the primary customer interface
for the distribution of space weather data and information will not be
improved and recovery from failure will be difficult.
In the second option, NOAA would eliminate SEC’s operational space
weather services while continuing research and development against the
day that (improved) services can resume. NOAA would cease to issue
official U.S. space weather alerts, warnings, and forecasts,
information that is currently not provided by any other source.
Unfortunately, reducing the current suite of products one-by-one saves
very little until the last product is terminated. The infrastructure to
support one product supports all, so there is little savings in
reducing the number of products. Joint operations with the U.S. Air
Force would stop, including providing back-up to the U.S. Air Force’s
classified space weather support to our armed services. Products
supporting airlines, power companies, navigation, and other services
and industries would not be prepared, issued, and updated. As noted for
research and development, the SEC website would degrade and be prone to
complete failure. Real-time operational data systems would be
decommissioned.
SEC has several scientific challenges before it. An exciting effort
is its work with academic and DOD partners to assimilate data into
numerical models, similar to the significant assimilation challenge
faced by the meteorological modeling community. The challenge combines
computational science and physical understanding of the space
environment and will lead to improvements in both. With successful “4-
D data assimilation,” the model outputs (space weather maps) will be
more accurate and more skillful, therefore more useful to users of the
services. SEC is working to ensure that space environment monitors
designed for GOES and POES satellites provide useful and reliable data
on every satellite. Researchers at SEC consult on and write
requirements for space weather sensors and, when appropriate, on
requirements for the satellites.
SEC has three Divisions; one for services; a second for research
and development; and, a third to develop and maintain the computer
systems which support the Center’s work. The Research and Development
Division derives its goals and targets from the needs of the Space
Weather Operations Division. In turn, the space weather services
products improve from the application of R&D. Having R&D and
operational services in one Center encourages more frequent and more
effective interaction and collaboration among the scientists,
forecasters, and specialists at SEC. While forecasts, alerts, and
warnings are routine for quiet and mildly unsettled solar conditions,
when activity becomes intense, forecasters consult with the Center’s
research Ph.D.s about the forecast. This is because there are not yet
good “rules of thumb” for how to deal with these situations, and the
best expertise must be brought to bear on aspects of the problem. In
addition, the pace of innovation and change is still very rapid in
space weather, with researchers at SEC and elsewhere playing a major
role in developing models that, if they could be transitioned swiftly
into operations, would bring us progressively closer to the goal of
physics-based, numerical space weather predictions.
The Research and Development Division is grounded in understanding
the fundamental physical processes governing the regime from the solar
surface, through the interplanetary medium, into the magnetospheric-
ionospheric regions, and ending in Earth’s upper atmosphere. These
processes determine the climatology and nature of disturbances in the
solar atmosphere, in Earth’s magnetic field, in the ionosphere, in the
charged particle populations at satellite orbits, and in the
atmospheric density at high altitudes (including low-Earth orbit).
SEC’s research, technique development and new sensor implementation are
focused on areas where advanced applications can be brought to bear to
improve space weather services. The staff has expertise spanning from
solar physics to Earth’s upper atmosphere and maintains close
collaborations throughout the larger research community. They publish
regularly in scientific journals, and work directly with the SEC Space
Weather Operations and the Systems Division to develop state-of-the-art
capabilities for the SEC forecast center. The group develops analysis
tools for working with data from a variety of spacecraft, including the
NOAA geosynchronous and polar orbiters, and spacecraft in the solar
wind. Data access is provided through customized data-analysis routines
and individualized displays. In addition to enhancing the utility and
value of the primary data through research and analysis, the group
explores sources of new data and improved monitoring to support Space
Weather Operations. The group leads in the development of techniques to
process and interpret both ground-based and space-based solar imagery,
and has special expertise in solar X-ray imaging.
The Space Weather Operations Division is the Nation’s official
source of space weather alerts and warnings. The services center is
staffed 24/7 with an operations specialist and, for ten hours a day, a
forecaster They continually monitor Earth’s space environment with
displays and software driven by the approximately 1400 data streams
received each day. Forecasters synthesize current data, climatological
statistics, and relevant research results to formulate their daily
predictions of solar and geophysical activity. Operations specialists
ensure data integrity and timeliness; verify event validity and issue
Alerts, Watches, and Warnings; and update announcements on the
Geophysical Alert Broadcasts over radio station WWV and WWVH.
The Systems Division is responsible for: IT system architecture;
computer security; developing or acquiring, and maintaining, the
computer hardware and software to routinely ingest data; populating the
data bases; the hardware and software for disseminating data and
products to customers and to the archive; and providing computer
configuration control and redundancy for operational reliability. In
addition, Systems Division personnel provide system administration and
support to internal users, while responding to IT directives from the
NOAA and OAR Chief Information Officers, and working with
administrators of the several local Internet services. The Division
operates the receiving antennas at the prime and back-up Boulder sites,
and has personnel on-call at all times to attend to hardware and
software failures which affect the functions of the forecast center.
SEC performs a vital role for the Nation in conducting and
coordinating research and its application. The recent National Research
Council report–A Decadal Research Strategy in Solar and Space Physics
(2003), recommended that NOAA should assume full responsibility for
space-based solar wind measurements, expand its facilities for
integrating data into space weather models, and, with NASA, should plan
to transition research instrumentation into operations. As discussed in
the National Space Weather Program Implementation Plan (2000),
interagency programs cannot succeed in meeting the Nation’s needs
without NOAA SEC observations, research, model development, and
transition to operations. And, as emphasized in the Department of
Defense’s (DOD) National Security Space Architect Study (2000), NOAA’s
current and planned activities are essential to meet DOD’s space
weather needs.
In addition to the SEC’s activities, it should be noted that three
line organizations play roles in the NOAA Space Weather Program:
National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service
(NESDIS), National Weather Service (NWS), and Office of Oceanic and
Atmospheric Research (OAR), with some interest and support from the
National Ocean Service. They cover the gamut of space weather
activities from setting requirements for future space environment
monitoring sensors and spacecraft, to monitoring the development of the
sensors for flight on the Geostationary Operational Environmental
Satellites (GOES) or Polar Operational Environmental Satellites (POES),
to tracking and downloading data from NOAA and non-NOAA satellites, to
processing and distributing the data, and finally to archiving the
data. Many of these activities are contained within and are an integral
part of NOAA’s major programs, such as the GOES and POES programs, so
that only the Space Environment Center (OAR) and part of the National
Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) in NESDIS are clearly identified budget
structures tied directly to NOAA’s space weather program. The
requirements process also identifies observations needed in addition to
the GOES and POES programs and programmatic plans are made for these
platforms as well. NGDC is the sole archive of routine monitoring data
of the space environment recorded on GOES, on POES, and on DOD’s
Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellites. It is also the
sole archive of space environment monitoring data recorded at DOD
ground-based solar and ionospheric stations. As noted below, NOAA also
works closely with other federal agencies and nations to obtain
available real-time space weather data enabling more accurate and
timely space weather services for the Nation.

COLLABORATION WITH PARTNERS

SEC works with a variety of partners to accomplish its mission.
Internally, cooperative ventures abound as graduate students, post-
doctoral students, visiting scientists, Cooperative Institute fellows
from the University of Colorado, and contractors all contribute to the
effort at the Center. Additionally, SEC works with the Cooperative
Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, a NOAA Joint
Institute.
SEC works closely with colleagues across government agencies and
academia, in the U.S. and internationally, to understand the space
environment and apply research results. Collaboration requires a great
deal of coordination within the U.S. and internationally. Within the
U.S. Government, the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology
provides a mechanism for space weather coordination, including
development and implementation of the National Space Weather Program
(NWSP). The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the
National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Departments of Defense
(DOD), Interior (DOI), Energy (DOE), Commerce (DOC), and Transportation
(DOT) are participants in the NWSP, which recognizes common interests
in space weather observing and forecasting. Aware of the need for
prudent employment of available resources and the avoidance of
duplication in providing these services and support for agency mission
responsibilities, the cooperating departments have sought to satisfy
the need for a common service and research program under the NWSP. The
NWSP’s Implementation Plan sets out the expected data, research, and
services contribution from each participating agency.
To provide its specification and forecast services, SEC works most
closely with the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency’s forecast center in
Omaha, which provides services to U.S. military customers. NOAA
civilians and uniformed NOAA Corps and U.S. Air Force personnel
together staff the joint services center in Boulder. NOAA and USAF
share their data without charge to each other, and confer every day
before the daily forecasts are issued by the two agencies to their
respective clients. The SEC provides centralized space weather support
to non-DOD government users, such as NASA, and to the general public,
such as the commercial airline industry. SEC operates and maintains a
national real-time space weather database to accept and integrate
observational data, to provide operational support and services in the
space and geophysical environment, to provide services to public users
in support of the national economy, and to serve as the U.S. Government
focal point for international data exchange programs. The USAF provides
unique and classified support to all DOD users. The Space Weather
Operations Center (SPACEWOC) at the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA)
serves as the DOD focal point for space weather forecasting support and
services. The USAF maintains a worldwide network of both ground-based
and space-based observing networks to provide accurate, reliable, and
timely support to military communications, surveillance, and warning
systems. To avoid duplication, the two agencies share responsibilities
to produce certain space weather databases, warning, and forecast
products of mutual interest and benefit to each other. AFWA and SEC
provide cooperative support and backup for each other in accordance
with existing agreements.
NOAA procures, operates, and maintains the Space Environment
Laboratory Data Acquisition System (SELDADS) as the national system for
collection, integration, and distribution of solar-geophysical data
received in real-time from ground-based observatories and satellite
sensors. Collection, processing, monitoring, and storage of the data
occurs continuously around the clock. Displays and interactive analyses
of the data are used by SEC to provide alerts, forecasts, and data
summaries to a user community consisting of industrial and research
organizations and Government agencies in the United States and abroad.
The collaboration among space weather service providers and those
who fund their research is closely coordinated and mutually beneficial.
NASA and DOD conduct critical research and development activities that
NOAA assesses and incorporates, as needed, onto its civil operations
spacecraft. NASA’s upcoming Living with a Star set of missions and
their accompanying data and research are oriented toward improving
space weather monitoring and improving techniques for understanding
space weather effects and the inference of the physical processes that
shape the space weather environment. These are important because they
enable the production of new physical models for improved
predictability of the space weather environment and its evolution. The
space industry also provides expertise to assist in various projects.
Increasingly, collaborations with the private sector and foreign remote
sensing operators provide data and information that NOAA and other
government agencies such as the USDA, DOE, and DOI use to implement
their respective missions.
SEC also works actively with partners in industry and other users
on specific projects to identify research and forecast needs. For
example, SEC has one active Cooperative Research and Development
Agreement with Federal Data Corporation (FDC) to develop a model of the
wavelength-dependent changing solar brightness for customers interested
in ionospheric changes and heating of the terrestrial atmosphere.
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and SEC scientists, with
others, issue and update the world consensus forecasts of the 11-year
cycle of solar activity for the benefit of NOAA, NASA, DOD, and others;
this is the forecast used by NOAA, NASA, DOD, and the international
community for mission planning. Spaceweather.com, a website fostered
and supported by MSFC, makes heavy use of SEC’s data and products. The
website exhibits data gathered from SEC. SEC is first in the site’s
list of “essential” links.
SEC also co-sponsors Space Weather Week annually with other
government agencies such as the Air Force Research Laboratory, NSF
Division of Atmospheric Science, and NASA Sun-Earth Connection Program.
This event brings hundreds of users, researchers, vendors, government
agencies, and industry representatives together in a lively dialog
about space weather. Discussion focuses on recent solar and geomagnetic
activity, specific space weather impacts, and our scientific
understanding of this activity. The conference program highlights space
weather impacts in several areas of the environment including
ionospheric disturbances, satellite drag, auroral currents, geomagnetic
storms and their solar drivers, radiation belts, and solar energetic
particles. The conference registration fee covers almost the entire
cost of the conference. The rest of the conference expenses are covered
by NSF, specifically some costs for invited speakers, students, special
guests and support for international partners to attend. SEC, the DOD
Air Force Research Lab and NASA all assist with the planning of Space
Weather Week, and representatives from industries impacted by space
weather including those from electric power, commercial airlines,
satellite operations, and navigation/communications are among frequent
participants and contributors. The attached spreadsheet highlights
comments SEC has received from users about impacts of space weather on
their efforts.

VALUE OF SPACE WEATHER FORECASTING AND RESEARCH

In the last few years, there has been a large increase in society’s
need for space weather information, as geomagnetic storms and solar
disturbances can impact a wide array of sectors and industries ranging
from transportation to electricity generation. SEC’s website receives
on average more than 500,000 hits per day from commercial and public
users. This number can triple during severe space weather events. SEC
forecasts and research helps support a wide array of needs including
the U.S. power grid infrastructure, commercial airline industry, Global
Positioning System or GPS, NASA human space flight activities,
satellite launch and operations, and U.S. Air Force operational
activities.
The direct global economic impact of space weather has been
estimated at about $200 million per year. A one percent gain in
continuity and availability of GPS information, which can be disrupted
by space weather events, would be worth $180 million per year. DOD
alone spends $500 million each year to mitigate space weather effects.
In 1989, a space weather storm caused such significant orbital decays
that the Air Force Space Command lost track of 1,300 of the 8,000
objects orbiting in space that it was tracking. In addition to the
potential harm radiation from a space weather event can cause
astronauts and sensitive electrical equipment in space, these rapid
changes in flight paths of space debris could be potentially harmful
should they intersect with the paths of astronauts or satellites in
space. In March 1989, seven geostationary satellites had to make 177
orbital adjustments in two days, more than normally made in a year.
Such wear reduces the satellites’ useful lifespan. Destruction of
AT&T’s Telestar satellite by a severe weather event in 1997 disrupted
TV networks and part of the U.S. earthquake monitoring network, and
forced renegotiation of the sale of Telestar, resulting in a drop of
$234 million in value. Submarine, continental cables, and parts of
fiber optic cable systems have all been known to fail or be overloaded
as a result of space weather.
Geomagnetically-induced currents can disrupt or wipe out electrical
systems through power surges that cause network supply disruptions,
transformer damage, and wear-and-tear on other components. As we
apparently witnessed this summer during the blackout in the north, a
single failure in the power grid can escalate into cascading damages
and outages. Oak Ridge National Laboratory estimates that a blackout in
the Northeast caused by geomagnetic storms could result in a $3-6
billion loss in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A geomagnetic storm in
1989 caused $13.2 million in damage to power systems operators in
Quebec, and another $27 million to power operators in New Jersey. In
addition, the disruption creates additional impacts for power customers
who lose electricity. After 1989, Hydro-Quebec spent $1.2 billion on
capacitors to prevent potential space weather disruptions. A current,
induced by severe space weather, in a liquefied gas pipeline that
ignited when two trains passed over it is the suspected cause of an
accident that killed over 500. Preventative measures, based on early
forecasts from the SEC and its partners, can help mitigate the need for
such costly alternatives as shielding power lines. One recent estimate
suggested that the use of good forecasts by the power industry could
save the U.S. $365 million per year, averaged over the solar cycle.
Not only do we depend more heavily on systems that can be adversely
impacted by space weather, new systems and new modes of operation using
old systems vulnerable to space weather have proliferated. Satellites
are becoming smaller and cheaper because of reduced component size and
increased computer speeds. Economic competition drives the need to
reduce shielding and redundancy, but these changes leave satellites
more vulnerable to space weather disturbances. U.S. airlines are
offering passengers the convenience of non-stop flights over the North
Pole to Asian destinations; these flights (and research flights in
Antarctica) sometimes experience air traffic control difficulties due
to space weather. During a March 2001 space weather storm, 25 flights
were rerouted to avoid the Poles because of the increased radiation
risk.
National policy and defense planning have resulted in increased
reliance on the use of commercial systems to gather information and
move it between the United States and troops and ships in hot spots
around the world. However, experiences during severe conditions of the
last solar cycle indicates that some users may experience performance
failures and degraded results during times of high solar and
ionospheric activity. The nation is also placing large numbers of
astronauts into radiation-vulnerable orbits for unprecedented periods
of time during the assembly and operation of the International Space
Station. Our increased need for improved space weather information to
insure safety, reliability, and defense are inevitable outcomes of our
growing use of space-weather-sensitive systems.
SEC has been keeping up with the changes, responding to new
customer needs, research breakthroughs, and the changing face of space
weather services. Among several successes, it has transitioned physics-
based numerical models into the operational space weather service. It
was possible to use the first of these university-developed models only
when real-time solar wind data from upstream of Earth became available
to drive them. Now forecasters get numerical guidance, much as
meteorological forecasters do. Model output can be disseminated to
provide customers with the space weather analogs of meteorological
weather maps, showing event locations and intensities of computed
fronts and boundaries. SEC has designed website to make it user-
friendly for a range of audiences, from electricity producers to
teachers and the media.
A solar x-ray imager on GOES-12 was made operational in 2003,
funded as a USAF-NASA-NOAA partnership, and has provided images of the
solar corona at a rate of once per minute. Images are able to show
visible coronal changes that signal events on the Sun which will later
cause space weather storms. This imager is the first of its kind, and
it shows more capability in imaging the Sun for forecasting purposes
than any solar imager to date. Automating the extraction of information
from these images and incorporating the information into specification
and forecast algorithms is already shedding light into the causes of
solar wind and eruption events hazarding Earth. However, on the morning
of September 2, 2003, the GOES-12 SXI instrument automatically
transferred into an instrument safe (non-operational) mode. Two
attempts were made to raise instrument voltages to their normal
operating levels, but both attempts failed. Development of plans to
return the SXI to limited operations is underway.
SEC is also active in developing products and services for the next
generation air transport system. Working with both the commercial
airlines and the FAA, SEC is formulating new products to serve airline
operations of the future. That future is certain to include higher
flying and trans-polar air routes as each allows for a faster more
profitable trip. Particular issues that are impacted by space weather
are navigation, radio communication, and radiation to the passengers
and crew. Recent work with the FAA’s User Needs Analysis Team (UNAT)
has led to the implementation of SEC alerts and warnings into the
operational planning for commercial airlines on trans-polar routes.
Specifically, communications from air to ground, and the management of
the radiation environment are points of concerns for the FAA. SEC has
worked to supply the appropriate real-time information to be used by
aircraft dispatchers.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, NOAA
is pleased to have had the opportunity to provide you an overview of
space weather and SEC, our collaborative activities with our partners,
and the value of space weather forecasting and research. We look
forward to continuing our efforts to provide a critical service for our
nation by providing cutting-edge research and forecasts in the space
weather arena. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Chairman Ehlers. Colonel Benson.

STATEMENT OF COLONEL CHARLES L. BENSON, COMMANDER, AIR FORCE
WEATHER AGENCY

Colonel Benson. Good morning. I am honored to appear before
you today to address this committee on a matter critical to our
nation: space weather. I am also pleased to be joined by this
distinguished panel of witnesses, including my partner to my
right in operational space weather services, Dr. Hildner,
Director of the Space Environment Center, otherwise known as
SEC, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Air Force Weather Agency, known as AFWA, and SEC
operate complementary space weather forecast centers. Over the
last several decades in which the Air Force and NOAA have
analyzed and forecast space weather for operational users, we
have learned a valuable lesson: space weather is complex and
costly. Our solution has been to leverage each other’s
resources, capabilities, and expertise, achieving efficiency by
concentrating on those things we each do best. In simplest
terms, AFWA is responsible for military and national
intelligence support. SEC supports civilian and commercial
users.
At AFWA, our focus has been on providing military war
fighters and DOD decision-makers with mission-tailored space
weather impact products. AFWA is the sole operational space
weather support organization in the Department of Defense. To
maintain our close working relationship, AFWA has staffed a
small contingent of Air Force weather personnel at SEC in
Boulder, Colorado since 1972. This operating location acts as a
liaison to coordinate data sharing, forecast collaboration, and
to develop new forecast techniques. Daily coordination is also
accomplished through multiple teleconferences, which assures
agreement on joint space weather forecast products.
Another great advantage of our close working relationship
with SEC is cost sharing opportunities. For example, the Air
Force funded $18 million to develop the Solar X-ray Imager
Sensor, now operational on a NOAA satellite. This new sensor
now provides critical data to both forecast centers.
Lastly, AFWA relies on real-time data relay and processing,
partial backup, and expertise and experience from SEC to
provide DOD operators with high quality space weather analysis,
forecasts, and warnings.
AFWA aggressively reviewed the space weather operations
performed at SEC to determine if AFWA could assume their
support responsibilities if the proposed funding cuts are
realized. Our initial evaluation shows that there would be many
significant challenges transitioning the data ingest, space
weather models, applications, and computer and communication
infrastructures. Meeting these challenges would be both time-
consuming and very costly. In particular, the space weather
research and technology transition expertise at SEC would take
years to rebuild at AFWA. Furthermore, there are security,
policy, and resource issues of great concern, approval to
operate and connect to military networks, Armed Forces Title 10
responsibilities providing services to commercial interests,
and both manpower and operating fund limitations.
Our Nation is becoming increasingly dependent on space
technology. Although the science of space weather is still in
its infancy, it has been compared to the meteorological
capability of this country in the 1950’s, we are on the verge
of improved capabilities from new models and data sources,
which will provide more accurate space weather services. SEC is
at the forefront of this movement. The Nation’s investment in
space weather capabilities will yield great future dividends,
just as the investment in terrestrial weather 50 years ago is
paying off today in the Nation’s ability to anticipate extreme
weather and then mitigate its effects.
The synergy of the two complementary space weather forecast
centers at SEC and AFWA have proven to be a national asset to
the security and prosperity of the United States. We urge this
committee to advocate for a healthy and stable SEC so this
critical capability for military and civilian users will
continue into the future.
I look forward to addressing all of your questions later.
[The prepared statement of Colonel Benson follows:]
Prepared Statement of Colonel Charles L. Benson, Jr.

Introduction

I am honored to appear before you today to address this committee
on a matter critical to our nation: space weather. I am also pleased to
be joined today by one of my partners in operational space weather
services, Dr. Ernest Hildner, Director of the Space Environment Center
(SEC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Overview of Air Force Space Weather Services

The Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) has the sole responsibility to
provide military space weather services to all Department of Defense
(DOD) agencies and units, as well as to the National Intelligence
Community. Our mission is two-fold: to collect space weather data from
DOD ground- and space-based sensors; and to provide environmental
battlespace awareness through mission-tailored analyses, forecasts, and
warnings of mission-impacting space weather to operators, warfighters,
planners and decision-makers from command level down to individual
units. To accomplish our mission, AFWA operates the Space Weather
Operations Center, or Space WOC, the Nation’s only military space
weather analysis and forecast center, located at Offutt Air Force Base,
Nebraska. We also operate a global network of optical and radio solar
observatories, and maintain an intercontinental network of space
weather sensors feeding data to the Space WOC. AFWA employs sixty-four
(64) military and contractor personnel at the Space WOC and other
locations, including thirty (30) personnel stationed at the solar
observatories around the world. In addition to the personnel costs,
AFWA committed $10.9 million dollars in Fiscal Year 2003 to operate,
upgrade and improve the Space WOC and solar observatories, and to
collect data from DOD ground- and space-based sensor networks. AFWA is
dedicated to providing warfighters a complete situational awareness of
the battlespace in which they operate. This enables the warfighters to
maximize their effectiveness while minimizing the risk to life,
resources and mission impacts introduced by the natural space
environment.

Users of Air Force Space Weather Products and Information

Users of AFWA’s space weather services include every branch of
service–Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard–and the
National Intelligence Community, from leadership and senior decision
makers to specific individual units. Success in every modern military
operation depends upon at least one of the following space weather-
impacted capabilities: long-distance radio or satellite communications
for command and control, precision navigation and timing from Global
Positioning System (GPS) signals, over-the-horizon or tactical radars,
high-altitude manned aerial reconnaissance, orbiting spacecraft and
sensors, and strategic space launch. AFWA provides analyses and
forecasts of space weather impacts on these capabilities to DOD and
National Intelligence Community leadership and operators. The National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Environment
Center (SEC) is a major user of Air Force space weather data. AFWA
provides this data in accordance with collaborative partnering
agreements to facilitate its space weather support to the commercial
and civilian communities.

Relationship Between AFWA, SEC, and NASA

AFWA and SEC are partners in providing space weather service to the
Nation. Each has clearly defined roles and responsibilities, leveraging
the capabilities of the other to realize significant cost and resource
savings. In simplest terms, AFWA is responsible for military and
national intelligence support–SEC supports civilian and commercial
users. The Air Force divides space weather services into five basic
steps: (1) observe, measure, and collect space weather data, (2)
analyze the data, (3) specify and forecast the space environment, (4)
tailor analyses and forecasts to meet individual user needs, and (5)
integrate space weather information to users’ decision and execution
processes. AFWA’s primary focus on information tailoring and
integration are the two steps providing the greatest benefit and value
to the warfighter. SEC emphasizes characterization and forecasting the
natural space environment.
AFWA relies on SEC in three crucial areas to accomplish our space
weather mission: 1) unique data, analyses and forecasts provided by
SEC; 2) partial backup capability; and 3) SEC’s unique space weather
experience and expertise. The Space WOC relies on ground- and space-
based magnetometer data provided through SEC to analyze, warn and
forecast global geomagnetic activity important to the national
intelligence agencies and to the North American Aerospace Defense
Command (NORAD). AFWA also depends on alerts of geomagnetic activity
from NOAA satellites and solar activity forecasts provided by SEC to
warn and forecast impacts to specific military communications links. As
identified in the National Space Weather Program Implementation Plan,
the AFWA and SEC forecast centers provide limited back-up operations
for each other in the event of computer equipment or communication
outages. Current back-up consists of telephone notification of observed
space weather events. Space WOC and SEC coordinate on forecasts and
engage in multiple daily space weather teleconferences. These
teleconferences inject valuable insight into the science and art of
space weather forecasting and allow AFWA to leverage the vast knowledge
and experience of SEC scientists.
AFWA reciprocates in our partnership with SEC by sharing unique DOD
space weather data and Air Force forecasts of geomagnetic activity. SEC
utilizes solar images and radiographs from the solar observatories,
particle data from sensors aboard military satellites, and ground-based
DOD instruments in their operations. In addition, every six hours the
Space WOC produces a forecast of geomagnetic activity from SEC supplied
data. SEC in-turn uses these forecasts in the production of their
products and services.
To facilitate and promote our close working relationship, AFWA
established Operating Location-P (OL-P) co-located with SEC at Boulder,
Colorado. OL-P personnel act as liaisons between SEC and AFWA,
coordinate back-up policy and procedures between the two organizations,
augment SEC forecaster manning, interact with researchers, ensure
smooth and continuous data flow between both forecast centers, assist
SEC researchers in establishing new data sources and ground data
systems, and take part in developing new space weather forecast
techniques benefiting both organizations. The complementary nature of
the two missions allows both NOAA and the Air Force to realize cost
sharing advantages to acquire needed data. SEC provides the Advanced
Composition Explorer real-time tracking data to AFWA. The Air Force
paid $18 million to develop the Solar X-ray Imager now operational
aboard one of the NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental
Satellites. Additionally, AFWA pays the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for ground-based
space weather data from a global network of GPS receivers.

AFWA taking on the duties of SEC

Air Force Weather Agency aggressively reviewed the space weather
operations performed at SEC to determine if AFWA could assume their
support responsibilities if proposed funding cuts are realized. Our
initial evaluation shows that there are many significant technical
challenges transitioning the data ingest, space weather models and
applications, and computer and communication infrastructures from SEC
to the Space WOC. Meeting these challenges will be both time consuming
and costly. Additionally, there are many critical issues and important
policy considerations that would have to be addressed prior to assuming
any commercial space weather services at AFWA. These include Armed
Forces Title 10 responsibilities, security and accreditation affecting
AFWA’s approval to operate and connect to DOD communication networks,
as well as significant manpower and funding resource issues. In
particular, SEC’s expertise and experience in satellite-based space
weather measurements from NOAA spacecraft, and its one-of-a-kind space
weather modeling applications, would be very difficult to reproduce at
AFWA. The space weather research and technology transition expertise
resident at SEC would take years to build at AFWA.

Impacts on Air Force and Military Ops

There would be an immediate and severe impact on military
operations if the Space Environment Center no longer existed. Air Force
Weather Agency’s ability to characterize and forecast the space
environment would be dramatically reduced, impacting space situational
awareness, satellite and radio communications, space control, precision
navigation and strike, high-altitude flight and space operations.
Additionally, the loss of a back-up capability for the Space WOC would
have serious implication on the AFWA continuity of operations plan. The
loss of SEC expertise and decades of experience would likely decrease
AFWA’s space weather characterization and forecast accuracies. The
closure of SEC would also result in a decrease in the rapid transition
of new techniques and data sources into space weather forecast
operations.

Summary

Over the last several decades in which the Air Force and NOAA have
analyzed and forecasted the space environment for operational users, we
have learned a valuable lesson: space weather is a complex and costly
undertaking. Our solution has been to leverage each other’s resources;
achieving efficiency by concentrating on those things we each do best.
Our nation is becoming increasingly dependent on space technology.
Although the science of space weather is still in its infancy–which
some have compared to the meteorological capability of this country in
the 1950’s–we are on the verge of improved capabilities from new
models and data sources that will provide more accurate space weather
services. SEC is at the forefront of this movement. The Nation’s
investment in space weather capabilities will yield great future
dividends, just as the investment in terrestrial weather fifty years
ago is paying off today. The synergy of the two complementary space
weather forecast centers at SEC and AFWA has proven to be a national
asset to the security and prosperity of the United States. One does not
have to look very far to see that the United States is not the only
“game in town” when it comes to the exploitation of the space
environment. We urge this committee to advocate for a healthy and
stable SEC so that this critical capability for military and civilian
users will continue into the future.

Chairman Ehlers. Thank you.
Dr. Grunsfeld.

STATEMENT OF DR. JOHN M. GRUNSFELD, CHIEF SCIENTIST, NATIONAL
AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION

Dr. Grunsfeld. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Subcommittee, thank you very
much for the opportunity for NASA to testify before you today
regarding the importance of space weather forecasting provided
by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Space
Environment Center and its impact on NASA programs.
Providing space weather data is an important operational
service and has a wide range of customers both within the
United States Government and in the private sector. My
testimony today will focus on how NASA uses these critical
data. I will speak to you both from a position as NASA’s Chief
Scientist, but also as a member of the Astronaut Corps, the
group of folks who are most directly exposed to the effects of
space weather, and I should add, those few individuals who have
ventured beyond 8,000 meters in altitude on Planet Earth.
Solar wind conditions, solar flares, coronal mass
ejections, and subsequent geomagnetic activity, commonly
referred to as “space weather,” affect many more areas of
NASA’s activities than most people realize. Space weather can
have significant adverse impacts on human health, spacecraft
operations by increasing the intensity of the near-Earth
radiation environment, the increased atmospheric drag on
satellites, disrupting their orientation, reducing their
lifetime, degrading UHF and high frequency communications, and
the operation of the Global Positioning System signals that we
use in our spacecraft. These effect the health of our
astronauts in orbit, space engineering and research equipment,
orbital altitude for spacecraft such as the Hubble Space
Telescope, and ultimately, we use this information to design
our spacecraft.
NASA’s space and earth science missions routinely employ
real-time forecasts from the NOAA SEC to make decisions
regarding data collection, spacecraft operation, and even
rocket launches. We use this information in the case of
anomalies in spacecraft to determine whether it was space
weather related or an engineering cause, and this is an
important part of our activities to make sure that we maximize
the scientific output of our resources.
The Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the recently launched
Space Infrared Telescope Facility both use the SEC resources,
observations of solar wind conditions and geomagnetic activity,
as critical to their real-time input for spacecraft operations.
In fact, in the recent solar activity, we have taken advantage
of SEC observations to modify our planning for those scientific
spacecraft.
At the NASA Johnson Space Center, the Space Radiation
Analysis Group uses data provided by the SEC to determine the
radiation environment in which NASA’s crewed spacecraft will
operate. NOAA has supplied space weather monitoring and
forecasting information to NASA for every human space flight
mission since Apollo 8. This information affects operational
decisions, when to launch a particular mission, and when we
would do space walking activities or extra-vehicular
activities. Because of this–the information that the SEC
provides, we can plan our missions and activities in such a way
to minimize the radiation exposure received by astronauts on
our vehicles.
Minimizing radiation exposure for Shuttle and International
Space Station crews is imperative. NASA has sought the advice
of the National Council on Radiation Protection and
Measurements concerning radiation exposure limits for our
astronauts and uses this advice in setting dosage limits. We
are also guided by a principle that we call: “As Low as
Reasonably Achievable.” Without the data provided by the SEC,
NASA would have to reassess its operations to protect against
exposure to radiation events occurring without warning. And I
should add that during this recent solar activity, we have
changed some of our operational procedures based on SEC data to
ensure the safety of our astronauts and the International Space
Station.
Losing the SEC forecast that supports space flight missions
would be like living along a coastal area without any hurricane
forecasting capability. You would know the hurricane hit you,
but you would have no advanced warning, no ability to take
preventive actions, and no idea how strong it would be or how
long it would last.
NASA has a long history of cooperation with SEC and its
predecessor organizations at NOAA. The partnership has enabled
SEC to expand its capabilities to support human space flight
missions. We have supported the expansion of SEC services and
functionality, specifically in data processing, so that they
continue to support our Shuttle and ISS missions.
It is not within NASA’s mandate as a research and
development agency to provide the operational forecasting
services currently provided by the SEC. In addition, the
technical capacity, budget, and expertise required to perform
this activity could not transition to NASA without impacting
our ongoing space flight research and operations. The NOAA SEC
has a unique complement of people, experience, and resources
that allows it to provide a high level of service to the space
weather customers. There are no other sources, either domestic
or foreign, that can provide this type of support. The
capability to monitor and forecast this environment should well
remain with the agency that has the mission and the proven
expertise to respond to all of these customers.
Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Grunsfeld follows:]

Prepared Statement of John M. Grunsfeld

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the
opportunity to testify before you today regarding the importance of
space weather forecasting provided by the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Environment Center (SEC) and
its impact on NASA’s programs. Providing space weather data is an
important operational service, and it has a wide range of customers,
both within the United States Government and in the private sector. My
testimony today will focus on how NASA uses these critical data. I will
speak to you from my perspective both as NASA’s Chief Scientist, and as
a member of the astronaut corps–the group of people most directly
exposed to the effects of space weather.
Solar wind conditions, solar flares, coronal mass ejections (CMEs),
solar extreme ultraviolet emissions, and subsequent geomagnetic
activity, commonly referred to as “space weather,” affect many more
areas of NASA operations and programs than most people realize. Space
weather can have significant adverse effects on human health and
spacecraft operations by increasing the intensity of the near-Earth
radiation environment, increasing atmospheric drag, disrupting
satellite orientation, and degrading UHF and HF communications and
Global Positioning System (GPS) signals. These affect the health of our
astronauts in orbit, space engineering and research equipment
functionality, orbital attitude for spacecraft such as the Hubble Space
Telescope, and ultimately, the way we design spacecraft.
NASA’s Space and Earth Science missions routinely employ real-time
forecasts from the NOAA SEC to make decisions regarding data
collection, spacecraft operations, and rocket launches. NASA engineers
and researchers use near, real-time SEC forecasts to analyze instrument
and spacecraft anomalies, and separate cause and effect in the highly
modulated environment of space. During solar-induced changes to the
near-Earth radiation environment, NASA’s in-space research
instrumentation can become saturated by solar energetic particles,
which can lead to anomalies. This has happened numerous times during
the recent maximum phase of the solar cycle. One example comes from the
Earth Science Mission Operations (ESMO) Project. The ESMO uses data
provided by the NOAA SEC to determine whether spacecraft anomalies are
the result of system malfunctions or space weather events. Being able
to determine quickly that an anomaly was caused by space weather allows
ESMO to avoid lengthy equipment shutdowns while engineers search for a
cause. NOAA SEC is the only operational source for accurate, real-time
information on the near-Earth space radiation environment. NASA uses
the lessons learned from these experiences and the database of
radiation measurements gathered by SEC to design spacecraft with more
robust systems that can withstand space weather events.
The Chandra X-Ray Observatory and the recently launched Space
Infrared Telescope Facility both use the SEC observations of solar wind
conditions and geomagnetic activity as a critical input to their real-
time models of the Earth’s radiation environment. These models allow us
to adjust our operations to mitigate sensor degradation and data loss.
The result is that NASA is able to ensure optimal scientific return
from these two flagship missions. The SEC observations are also crucial
to NASA-funded research exploring the Sun-Earth connection. The Sun
affects the entire solar system, including all scientific data
collection satellites.
At the NASA Johnson Space Center, the Space Radiation Analysis
Group (SRAG) uses data provided by the SEC to determine the radiation
environment in which NASA’s crewed spacecraft will operate. NOAA has
supplied space weather monitoring and forecasting information to NASA
for every human space flight mission since Apollo 8. This information
affects operational decisions, such as when to launch a particular
Shuttle mission and when extra-vehicular activities (EVAs) can be
safely conducted. Because of the information that the SEC provides, we
can plan missions and on-orbit activities in such a way as to minimize
the radiation exposure received by our astronauts and our vehicles.
Minimizing radiation exposure for Shuttle and International Space
Station crews is imperative. NASA has sought the advice of the National
Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements concerning radiation
exposure limits for our astronauts, and uses this advice in setting
radiation dosage limits. NASA’s radiation protection efforts are
further guided by the ALARA (As Low as Reasonably Achievable)
principle. Without the data provided by SEC, NASA would have to
reassess its operations to protect against exposure to radiation events
occurring without warning.
Losing the SEC forecast that support space flight missions would be
like living along a coastal area without any hurricane forecasting
capability. You would know when the hurricane hit you, but you would
have no advanced warning, no ability to take preventive actions, and no
idea how strong it would be or how long it would last.
The risk that radiation poses to our spacecraft and astronauts is
borne out by past examples. For instance, in 1989 significant solar
events impacted both the Space Shuttle and the Mir space station, along
with other uncrewed spacecraft. In the spring of 1989, a solar flare,
solar particle event, and a geomagnetic storm doubled the daily
radiation dose for the Mir crew for two days, with elevated levels
lasting for two weeks. The solar events increased atmospheric drag
during the first day of STS-29. NORAD lost track of several space
objects for time periods varying from days to weeks. Several satellites
lost attitude control, while others tumbled. These space weather events
also brought the northeastern United States’ power grid close to
collapse. In the fall of 1989, a second series of solar particle events
again raised the dose of the Mir crew and damaged satellite solar
arrays.
The information provided by SEC is critical to NASA today as we
operate the ISS until the Space Shuttle returns to flight. NASA has
some monitoring capability on the ISS that we rely upon to gauge the
safety of the ISS environment for the crew. Although we have tools that
allow us to measure the radiation exposure of the crew and vehicle on a
periodic basis, we cannot monitor it constantly. This equipment was
designed as a back-up to the radiation monitoring and forecasting data
provided by SEC, which allow flight controllers to notify the crew of
increased radiation exposure levels. The SEC provides NASA with
critical real-time monitoring and forecasting of the radiation
environment around the Earth. We use this information along with on
board instrumentation to assess the ISS radiation environment. In the
current solar event, SEC forecasts gave us sufficient warning of a
proton flux event to allow the ISS crew to shelter in areas of the ISS
which provide more shielding protection from radiation.
NASA has a long history of cooperation with SEC and its predecessor
organizations at NOAA. That partnership has enabled SEC to expand its
capabilities to support human space flight missions. In the 1960s, NASA
funded the development of the Solar Particle Alert Network (SPAN) to
support the Apollo missions. NASA also supported the expansion of SEC
services to support our Skylab missions. Most recently, we have helped
SEC to modernize and add functionality to its data processing systems
so that they can continue to support our Shuttle and ISS missions.
Building on the information and analysis provided by SEC, we have
expanded our understanding of the impact of space weather on NASA’s
operations, and our ability to predict and respond to significant
events. It is only in the past decade that we have realized that
geomagnetic activity can enhance the outer electron belt, and increase
radiation exposure for astronauts performing EVAs. During the same
period, we have learned the important of CMEs with regard to solar
flares in producing large proton events that can pose health risks to
astronauts on orbit. NASA’ Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)
has revolutionized our understanding of CMEs, providing real-time
images of CMEs coming toward Earth. Perhaps most significantly, in the
last several years, we have discovered definitive evidence of the
magnitude and frequency of very large solar particle events over the
past 400 years. These events were significantly larger than anything we
have witnessed since humans started flying in space. It is likely that
we will see a recurrence of solar particle events of a similar
magnitude.
It is not within NASA’s mandate as a research and development
agency to provide the operational forecasting services currently
provided by the SEC. In addition, the technical capacity, budget and
expertise required to perform this activity could not transition to
NASA without impacting our other ongoing space flight operations and
research.
The NOAA SEC has a unique complement of people, experience, and
resources that allows it to provide a high level of service to its
space weather customers. There are no other sources, either domestic or
foreign, that can provide this type of support. As the United States
continues to expand its reliance on space-based assets such as GPS,
cellular communications, and digital satellite technology, the
importance of understanding the space weather environment becomes even
more critical. The capability to monitor and forecast this environment
should remain with the agency that has the mission and the proven
expertise to respond to all of these customers.
I sincerely appreciate the forum that the Subcommittee provided
today to highlight the importance of space weather forecasting, and I
look forward to the opportunity to respond to your questions.

Chairman Ehlers. And I thank you.
And I apologize for the bells ringing. We have not one, not
two, but three votes on the Floor. I would estimate it will
take us approximately a half an hour total. So we will recess
at this point at the call of the Chair and return as soon as
possible after the third vote. And I apologize to you for the
interruption. The Committee is in recess.
[Recess.]
Chairman Ehlers. The Committee will come to order. I
apologize that it took longer. The–we are having some
political problems, which I know is very hard for you to
believe. But we are hoping to pass the supplemental
appropriation today, and there are some very strong feelings on
both sides, so we have had some delay motions and votes.
We will proceed now with Mr. Kappenman.

STATEMENT OF MR. JOHN G. KAPPENMAN, MANAGER, APPLIED POWER
SYSTEMS, METATECH CORPORATION

Mr. Kappenman. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Committee
Members.
I am here to represent the viewpoint of the electric power
industry and the important threat that geomagnetic storms pose
to this critical national infrastructure and the importance of
the Space Environment Center forecasting and forecasting
services that are rendered to the power industry for this
important threat.
You have posed a number of very important questions. I will
try and briefly cover the highlights of those, although I do
provide more detail in the prepared testimony. The first
question is the historic impacts of these large storms. And I
will give you a very brief overview of a storm that occurred
about 14 years ago, and in fact, was the last geomagnetic super
storm that occurred and the nature of the impacts that were
felt in North America on the power grid for that storm.
If we can start an animation here.
[Video]
This is just showing you 20 minutes of what I would call
very bad space weather that day. And the important feature of
this type of weather is that it is unlike terrestrial weather.
You are seeing sudden onsets, planetary, continental impacts
and–of that moving at phenomenal rates of speed.
Power systems are built to withstand certain types of
weather, mostly terrestrial weather, but that is very
regionally confined when it is severe. This sort of severe
weather has, truly, a continental footprint, and that presents
a very unique challenge to operations of power grids. In fact,
the next slide here–I will start up an animation.
[Video]
These are the impacts that were observed by the U.S. power
grid or North American power grid coincident with that previous
20 minutes of bad space weather. And in the case of Quebec
itself, the entire province experienced a blackout from this
brief period of activity. And in fact, the power system
operators that day–this was the worst day of your life if you
are a power system operator, because things happen so quickly.
You have very little time to intervene. In the case of Hydro
Quebec, they went from normal operating conditions to complete
province-wide blackout in 92 seconds: no time to even assess
what was going on, let alone try and do any sort of meaningful
human intervention. Later on that day, if we will start up this
animation, the storm got even more intense.
[Video]
And as you can see, it was well down into and across the
entire U.S. for this 40-minute duration shown here. This storm
lasted in excess of a day. And I am just showing you a few of
the highlights from this activity. If we can go for–here we
go.
[Video]
If we start up this animation, for that previous storm
activity, this is what was observed in the U.S. as far as
important power system operating anomalies. We barely hung on
to the system in retrospect, the postmortems. Everybody agrees.
We came very, very close to experiencing a very–potentially
very widespread power system collapse that could have occurred
in the U.S. that day.
The second question you posed, forecasts and how are they
used. The short answer, power grids certainly do have
operational procedures that they put in place in times of
geomagnetic storms. They have both prepared actions that they
do from advanced forecasts as well as actions that they do from
nowcasts and updates on a continuous basis. These are provided,
of course, from SEC or from commercial providers, like my
company, that depend greatly on SEC data to provide even more
detailed forecasts of what could occur.
The nature of recent discoveries was also asked. We
certainly have learned a lot about the threat that is posed to
the U.S. power grid infrastructure by space weather over the
past few years. We certainly, and I imagine your constituents
know, that–post-August 14 of this year that there is an
awareness that there has been a decline in power grid
infrastructure and investment. And that has done nothing but
increase our vulnerability to space weather since that March
’89 storm.
We know, also, that storms can be, perhaps, three to ten
times larger in magnitude than what occurred in March ’89 and
that large U.S. blackouts are possible.
[Slide]
This is just one of many scenarios that we have studied for
regions that could be blacked out. We are looking at the
potential of blackouts that could exceed even that of the very
large blackout that occurred just a few months ago. And there
is no part of the U.S. power grid that is immune to this. It is
just a matter of where does this intense phenomenon
geographically lay down? How big is the footprint? And we know
these footprints can be very, very large. And literally, we
could impact over 100 million population in the worst case
scenarios.
If there is no Center, clearly this would degrade the
ability to counter some of the important impacts.
Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Kappenman follows:]

Prepared Statement of John G. Kappenman

The Vulnerability of the U.S. Electric Power Grid to Space Weather and
the Role of Space Weather Forecasting

I am grateful for the Committee’s kind invitation to offer
testimony today on “What Is Space Weather and Who Should Forecast
It?” as the answer to this important question has many possible
implications and places the Nation at an important crossroad. It is
only fitting that we carefully consider the future path that is in the
best interests of the Nation. And as I hope to emphasize in my
testimony, these space weather concerns, especially in regards to
impacts on electric power grids, may pose important homeland security
and energy security concerns and should be considered in your
deliberations.

BACKGROUND

For the past 27 years, I have been an active researcher and
observer of electric power system impacts caused by the widespread
geomagnetic field disturbances due to Space Weather. For some 22 years,
these activities occurred while I was employed in the electric power
industry itself. I not only lead research investigations funded by my
employer, but also efforts funded by the Electric Power Research
Institute. My areas of responsibility involved the design and
development of the high voltage transmission network and one of our
pressing concerns was the unique problems posed by the natural
phenomena of Space Weather. This was a problem that we recognized was
of a growing and evolving nature as our industry continued to grow in
size and technological sophistication. I particularly became engaged
with the NOAA-SEC in the aftermath of the great geomagnetic storm of
March 13-14, 1989, a storm which produced historic impacts to the
operations of power grids in the U.S. and around the world. I was part
of an electric power industry group that advocated the efforts such as
the ACE satellite and resulting solar wind monitoring that have greatly
improved the Nation’s capability to provide accurate short-term
forecasts of severe geomagnetic storm events.
Since 1997, I have subsequently been employed with the Metatech
Corporation and a part of what we now do is heavily involved with Space
Weather and impacts on technology systems, particularly large power
grids. Our company has, in fact, been involved in the vulnerability and
risk assessment for the power grids in England and Wales, Norway,
Sweden and portions of Japan. Metatech also provides continuous space
weather forecasting services for the company that operates the electric
power grid for England and Wales. Since May 2002, Metatech has been
providing similar vulnerability and risk assessments for the U.S.
electric power grid to the Commission to Assess the Threat to the
United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP Commission). The EMP
Commission was established by Congress under the provisions of the
Floyd D. Spence Defense Authorization Act of 2001, Public Law 106-398,
Title XIV. The EMP Commission was chartered to conduct a study of the
potential consequences of a high altitude nuclear detonation on the
domestic and military infrastructure and to issue a report containing
its findings and recommendations to the Congress, the Secretary of
Defense, and the Director, FEMA. While the charter of this commission
involved intentional electromagnetic attack on the U.S. infrastructures
primarily from a high altitude nuclear burst, the MHD (or magneto hydro
dynamic) portion of this electromagnetic attack can be remarkably
similar to the electromagnetic disturbance caused by the natural
phenomena of Space Weather. As a result the Commission wisely
investigated the plausible impacts due to severe geomagnetic storms on
the U.S. electric power infrastructure. The Commission has also closely
coordinated with the NERC (North American Electric Reliability Council)
and their Critical Infrastructure Protection Advisory Group (CIPAG).
This group has been continuously and fully vetted on the findings of
the Commission directed investigations. While the Commission is not
scheduled to report their findings back to Congress until approximately
March of 2004, they have encouraged Metatech to freely share with the
scientific community the investigation results related to severe
geomagnetic storm events. As a result, as part of my prepared
testimony, I will also provide the significant portions of these
findings. However, at this point, I should caution that these reports
will only be the opinion of Metatech as the Commission has not
completed deliberations and will not formally issue findings until
early next year.
In these diverse and various capacities, it has been my privilege
to work with the NOAA-SEC for many years as an end-user of their
forecast services, a bulk data user and, in some degrees, a competitor
to the SEC. In all cases we have developed a close partnership with
this agency and its staff, a relationship that has clearly allowed for
key advances in improving the geomagnetic storm forecasting capability
for the electric power industry.

Space Weather, Impacts to Electric Power Systems and the Importance of
Forecasting Services
The Committee has posed four questions which are designed to probe
the topic area of Space Weather Forecasting Services and their
importance to the reliability of the Nation’s electric power grid. I
shall attempt to answer these through examples of historic events,
examination of developing trends and operational procedures, and
efforts that have been made to model and extrapolate implications for
severe storm scenarios.

Question 1. Please provide an overview of how space weather can affect
electric power grid systems, including examples of historical events
that have caused problems.

Space Weather is associated with ejection of charged particles from
the Sun, which after colliding with the Earth’s magnetosphere will
produce significant disturbances in the normally quiescent geomagnetic
field at the Earth’s surface. These disturbances have caused
catastrophic impacts to technology systems in the past (e.g., the power
blackout in Quebec in March 1989). More importantly, as detailed
examinations have been undertaken concerning the interaction of
geomagnetic storm environments with power grids and similar
infrastructures, the realization has developed that these
infrastructures are becoming more vulnerable to disruption from
electromagnetic interactions for a wide variety of reasons. This trend
line suggests that even more severe impacts can occur in the future for
reoccurrences of large storms.

An Overview of the U.S. Electric Power Grid
While electricity customers receive power from the local
distribution system (typical operating voltage of 15kV with step down
to 120/240 volt), the backbone of the system is the high voltage
transmission network. The primary AC transmission network voltages in
the U.S. are at 230kV, 345kV, 500kV and 765kV. These transmission lines
and their associated transformers serve as the long distance heavy
hauling arteries of electricity production in the U.S. A single 765kV
transmission line can carry over 2000 MW of power, nearly 200 times
what a typical 15kV distribution line which is the overhead line
commonly used for residential distribution. Space Weather or
geomagnetic disturbances directly attack this same high voltage
transmission circulatory system and because both have continental
footprints, these disturbances can rapidly erode reliability of these
infrastructures and can therefore threaten widespread blackout for
extreme disturbance events. The U.S. electric power grid is the world’s
most extensive, Figure 1 provides a map of the approximate location of
the nearly 80,000 miles of 345kV, 500kV and 765kV transmission lines in
the contiguous U.S.

These geographically wide spread assets are also fully exposed to
the extremes of the terrestrial environments. Because these assets are
the critical backbone of the system, utility company engineers have
taken great care to engineer for robust capabilities of these assets to
withstand most of the severe wind, lightning and ice loading exposures.
For example, while many of the low voltage local distribution feeders
can fail due to tree damage during hurricanes, these same hurricane
events rarely threaten the integrity of the high voltage grid itself.
While extensive attention has been paid to these assets for terrestrial
weather exposures, a multitude of design decisions has inadvertently
and significantly increased the power grid exposure and vulnerability
to space weather environments, as will be discussed in later sections
of this testimony. There are “no shortages” of challenges that these
systems face. In addition to the terrestrial weather challenges, power
company operators face even more ominous threats from the recent
realization of physical and cyber terrorism. In spite of the best
efforts, failures still can occur; for example, a lighting strike can
still cause on occasion a high voltage transmission line to trip. Very
high winds, for example, due to a tornado can cause the failure of a
line or several lines on a common corridor. However, most of these
events generally occur in isolation and power grids are operated at all
times to withstand the largest creditable single contingency failure
without causing a cascading collapse of the network itself. Space
Weather differs from ordinary weather in that it has a big footprint
and attacks the system across many points simultaneously, causing at
times of severe events multi-point failures on the network that can
threaten the integrity of the network. Therefore, geomagnetic storms
may be one of the most important hazards and is certainly the least
understood threat that could be posed to the reliable operation of
these networks.
The transmission lines and substations are all geographically
remote and unstaffed facilities. They are difficult to fully monitor
and cannot be continuously patrolled. The bulk of the protection of
these facilities are done via autonomous relays that continuously sense
for disturbance conditions and operate as quickly as 70 msec to trip
off or isolate an asset that is sensed as an operating outside of
acceptable parameters to protect the integrity of the network as a
whole. Real-time data from a limited number of monitoring points is
brought back to one of the more than 150 continuously-staffed control
centers used to operate the transmission infrastructure in the U.S.
There operators continually assess network conditions and make needed
adjustments to keep all flows and voltages within prescribed boundaries
and limits. Further they are responsible to dispatch generation (in
many cases within a market-based supply system) to perfectly balance
the production and demand for electric energy. The limited amount of
real-time data makes it a challenge to fully assess the many possible
threats that can occur to these remote assets. The remotely monitored
data is not at all times unambiguous and can lead to differing
interpretations. Therefore it is not easy to determine the nature of a
threat from this alarm level information alone. In most control
centers, the real-time data is typically augmented with continuous high
quality terrestrial weather information, as regional storms and
climatic events can be one of the most frequent sources of operational
anomalies on the network. The power industry is just now getting to the
point of being introduced to the same paradigm in regards to high
quality space weather data and the benefits it could offer in improving
situational assessments.

The Electric Power Infrastructure and Its Sensitivity to Disturbance
Levels
While more details will be provided later, a brief overview of how
these geomagnetic disturbance environments actually interact with large
regional power grids indicates the complex nature of the threat. When
these disturbances occur they result in slowly varying (1-1000 seconds)
changes in the geomagnetic fields that can have very large geographic
footprints. These magnetic field disturbances will induce electric
fields in the Earth over these same large regions. Across the U.S.,
complex topologies of long distance transmission lines have been built.
These grids include transformers at generating plants and substations
that have grounded neutrals. These transformer neutrals provide a path
from the network to ground for these slowly varying electric fields
(less than 1 Hz) to induce a current flow through the network phase
wires and transformers.
These currents (known as geomagnetically-induced currents–GICs)
are generally on the order of 10’s to 100’s of amperes during a
geomagnetic storm. Though these quasi-DC currents are small compared to
the normal AC current flows in the network, they have very large
impacts upon the operation of transformers in the network. Under normal
conditions, even the largest transformer requires only a few amperes of
AC excitation current to energize its magnetic circuit, which provides
the transformation from one operating voltage to another. GIC, when
present, also acts as an excitation current for these magnetic
circuits, therefore GIC levels of only 1 to 10 amperes can initiate
magnetic core saturation in an exposed transformer. This transformer
saturation from just a few amperes of GIC in modern transformers can
cause increased and highly distorted AC current flows of as much as
several hundred amperes leading to overloading and voltage regulation
problems throughout the network.
Power networks for decades have been operated using what is termed
an “N-1” operation criteria. That is, the system must always be
operated to withstand the next credible disturbance contingency without
causing a cascading collapse of the system as a whole. Therefore, when
a single-point failure occurs, the system may need to be rapidly
adjusted to be positioned to survive the next possible contingency.
Space Weather disturbances have already been shown to cause near
simultaneous multi-point failures in power system infrastructures,
allowing little or no time for meaningful human interventions. The
onset of severe geomagnetic field disturbances can be both sudden and
have continental footprints, placing stresses broadly across power grid
infrastructures.
When a transformer saturates, it can produce a number of
simultaneous and undesired impacts to the grid. If the spatial coverage
of the disturbance is large, many transformers (hundreds to thousands)
will be simultaneously saturated. The principal concern to network
reliability is due to increased reactive power demands from
transformers that can cause voltage regulation problems, a situation
that can rapidly escalate into a grid-wide voltage collapse. But a
nearly equal concern arises from collateral impacts stemming from
highly distorted waveforms (rich in harmonics) from saturated
transformers that are injected into the network. As previously
mentioned protective relays continuously sense these now distorted
signals. These distortions can cause a mis-operation of an exposed
relay causing it to operate to isolate a key element of the network.
When these relay mis-operations occur in-mass because of the big
footprint of a storm, the protection systems can rapidly destroy the
integrity of the network that the relays were intended to protect. In
addition, individual transformers may be damaged from overheating due
to this unusual mode of operation, which can result in long-term
outages to key transformers in the network.
The threats to the infrastructure from geomagnetic storms include
the possibility of widespread power blackouts, damage to expensive and
difficult to replace transformers, and damage to equipment connected to
the grid. As a result, an important aspect of concern is the time
required to replace damaged transformers and to fully restore the
operation of the power grid.

Historic Storm Events and Power System Impacts
The rate of change of the magnetic field is a major factor in
creating electric fields in the Earth and thereby inducing quasi-dc GIC
current flow in the power transmission network. Therefore an important
means of classifying the severity of a disturbance can be made by
noting the dB/dt or rate-of-change of the geomagnetic field (usually
measured in units of nanotesla per minute of nT/min). The larger this
dB/dt environment becomes, the larger the resultant levels of GIC and
levels of operational impact upon exposed power grids.
Some of the first reports of operational impacts to power systems
date back to the early 1940’s and the level of impacts have been
progressively become more frequent and significant as growth and
development of technology has occurred in this infrastructure. In more
contemporary times, major power system impacts in the U.S. have
occurred in storms in 1957, 1958, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1974, 1979, 1982,
1983, and 1989 and several times in 1991. Smaller scale impacts can and
do occur even more frequently; these include anomalous operating events
that may result in the unexpected tripping of a key element of the
system or even permanent damage to apparatus such as large power
transformers.
In order to understand the far reaching impacts of large
geomagnetic storms, the disturbance impacts in particular of the great
storm of March 13-14, 1989 are reviewed in some detail. The most
important of these impacts was the storm-caused chain of events
resulted in the blackout of the Hydro-Quebec power system. At 2:42 am
EST, all operations across Quebec, Canada were normal. At 2:43 am EST,
a large impulse in the Earth’s magnetic field erupted along the U.S./
Canadian border. GICs immediately started to flow in the southern
portions of the Hydro-Quebec grid. In reaction to the GIC, voltage on
the network began to sag as the storm increased in magnitude; automatic
voltage compensating devices in the network rapidly turned “on” to
correct this voltage imbalance. Unfortunately these compensators
themselves were vulnerable to the harmonics generated in the network’s
transformers, and mis-operation of relays to protect these devices
caused the entire fleet of 7 compensators on the network to shut down
within 60 seconds of the beginning of the storm impulse. When the
compensators shut down, the network collapse followed within a matter
of seconds, putting over 6 million inhabitants of the province in the
dark. Going from normal conditions to a complete province-wide blackout
occurred in an elapsed time of just 90 seconds. The power system
operators had no time to understand what was happening, let alone to
take any meaningful human action to intervene and save the grid. In
comparison, the August 14, 2003 blackout covering large portions of the
U.S. and Canada evolved over a period of time in excess of 90 minutes.
Figure 2 provides a four minute sequence of maps showing the onset of
observed geomagnetic field disturbance conditions that caused the
Hydro-Quebec blackout.

Over the next 24 hours, five additional magnetic disturbances
propagated across the continent and nearly toppled power systems from
the Midwest to the mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S. The North American
Reliability Council (NERC), in their post analysis, attributed 200
significant anomalies across the continent to this one storm. Figure 3
illustrates the geographic breadth of power system problems during one
of the five substorm time periods on March 13, 1989 across the North
American grid. Figure 4 provides a depiction of the geographic extent
of the geomagnetic field disturbance conditions across North America at
time 22:00UT, that triggered the events shown in Figure 3. As
illustrated, at this time intense geomagnetic field disturbances
extended into mid-latitude portions of North America and essentially
across the entire U.S.
For further reference, a list of the NERC reported power system
operating anomalies due to this storm is provided in Exhibit 1. The
North American Electric Reliability Council, at that time, would
annually review significant system disturbances and provided a report
on the most important of these system disturbances, in order to share
information and insights on the disturbances and what lessons may be
gained from these experiences. The 1989 System Disturbances report
included discussions on the San Francisco Bay Area Earthquake, the
impacts of Hurricane Hugo, and several other disturbances, most of
which were tied to extreme environment disturbances. This report also
provided a detailed discussion of the March 13-14, 1989 Geomagnetic
Superstorm, which entailed 50 percent of the entire 67 page NERC
report. This Exhibit from that report provides an indication of the
wide spread impacts that were observed across the continental power
grid.

As previously mentioned, the best means of characterizing the
geomagnetic field disturbance environment as it relates to GIC impacts
on power grids is by the rate-of-change or dB/dt in nT/min. Figure 5
provides a plot of the dB/dt (or RGI–Regional GIC Index) observed at
the Ottawa observatory which would have broadly characterized the
intensity of the disturbance over the general New York, New England
regions and neighboring portions of southern Ontario and Quebec in
Canada.

As shown, the disturbance intensity that triggered the Hydro-Quebec
collapse at 2:45 EST was at an intensity of 480 nT/min. Over the time
interval of power system events shown in Figure 3, the peak dB/dt
disturbance intensities observed in various other locations across the
U.S. are provided in Figure 6. As shown, many of these disturbances
were initiated by disturbance intensities that generally ranged between
300 and 600 nT/min.

While power grid reliability concerns are of paramount importance,
the long duration of the storm and associated GICs in transformers on
the network caused internal transformer heating to the point of
failure. There were several noteworthy cases of transformer internal
heating associated with the March 13, 1989 storm in the U.S. mid-
Atlantic Region. In one case at the Salem Nuclear plant in southern New
Jersey, the internal heating was so severe that complete failure of the
transformer resulted. Figure 7 provides a few pictures of the
transformer and internal winding damage (conductor melting and
insulation burns) due to the GIC exposure. In this case the entire
nuclear plant was unable to operate until the large 500kV 1200MVA
transformer was replaced. Fortunately a spare from a canceled nuclear
plant in Washington State was available and restoration of the plant
occurred in 40 days. Transformers of this type are of custom design
and in most cases new replacement transformers of this type generally
take up to a year for delivery. Failures of key apparatus, such as
this, raise concerns about the ability to rapidly restore power in a
region once a blackout and failure has occurred.

Question 2. LHow does your organization use data and products from
NOAA’s Space Environment Center (SEC)? In general, how much lead time
do, you need to make decisions for mitigating the effects of space
weather?

As I had previously discussed, I have had considerable experience
both as an electric power industry user of data and products from the
NOAA Space Environment Center as well as a provider of geomagnetic
storm forecast services to electric power industry end-users.
Therefore, if the Committee will allow me, I will attempt to answer
this question from both points of perspective.
Electric Power Industry Application of Forecast Services
Some of the formative research and investigation of problems due to
GIC in the power industry was undertaken by my colleague and mentor
Professor Vernon D. Albertson at the University of Minnesota starting
in the late 1960’s. As a result of this work, formal arrangements were
made to disseminate geomagnetic storm information provided by the U.S.
government (the SEC or forerunner in that era) through established
communication means used to make coordinated adjustments in power grid
frequency regulation for purposes of time error correction. AEP at that
time acted as the official point of contact for these notifications
from NOAA as noted in this circa 1987 NERC document provided in Exhibit
2. The March 1989 storm was the first storm to precipitate a large-
scale blackout and very nearly threatened even wider scale problems
across the U.S. This unprecedented level of impacts caused renewed
emphasis on updating and revising operational procedures to better
contend with the unknowns of the disturbance environments. In fact,
several example procedures for power pools heavily impacted by the
March 1989 storm were published by NERC in the 1989 Disturbances Report
as shown in Exhibit 3. These procedures and the regions they encompass
include the NPCC, PJM, WAPA, and the Allegheny Power Service
Corporation.
Overtime, these procedures have been continuously updated and
current examples are provided for the PJM, NPCC, WSCC and even an
updated reference document by the NERC as recent as July 17, 2003 and
contemporaneous with the EMP Commission efforts to vet the NERC on U.S.
Electric Power Grid vulnerabilities to large geomagnetic disturbances.
These examples are provided as Exhibits 4 to 7. These procedures
describe some of the actions that operators would undertake to better
prepare the system to contend with the anticipated stress caused by a
storm. Even in the immediate aftermath of the March 1989 storm, the
power industry came to recognize the need for predictive forecast
warnings of these important storm events. In July 1990 the NERC Board
of Trustees issued a position statement advocating forecast
technologies that could provide approximately an hour advance notice of
the occurrence of important storm events (see Exhibit 8).

Metatech and Other Commercially-Provided Forecasting Services for the
Electric Power Industry
Because the NOAA-SEC provides only a broad and generic level of
service to end-users of space weather forecasts, these services are not
well formatted to extrapolate the possible and plausible impacts that
may result to complex technology systems such as electric power grids.
As a result, a need has developed and is being successfully filled by
the private sector to provide highly specialized forecast services to
these complex end-users. At present this service sector is in a state
of infancy, but is generally developing much along the model of the
medical services community. In this case, the NOAA-SEC forecasts are
the equivalent of the general practitioner, for those end-users who
have good space weather health (or at least suffer no serious space
weather problems); this service may be quite adequate. However for end-
users that have serious space weather health concerns, a more
specialized care or level of service may be warranted and in most cases
can be readily provided by firms such as ours that have specialized
capabilities for these unique and complex problems. That being said, it
should also be emphasized that end-user lack of awareness of potential
space weather problems is a serious challenge that both the SEC and
commercial providers must overcome. Exhibit 9 is a technical paper
which provides some commentary and overview on the type of specialized
services that our company can and does provide to the electric power
industry. The relevant portions of this paper discussing these forecast
services start on approximately page 23 of the Exhibit. Metatech
provides notifications that range from several days in advance based
upon solar observations to short-term forecasts that can be on average
an hour in advance driven by solar wind observations. We also provide
continuous real-time observations as well to verify impacts that are
being caused by a storm occurrence. We work extensively and very
closely with our clients on their complex needs. These efforts can
entail hardening their system from a design perspective, to training of
system operators to operationally prepare their system to better
respond to anticipated and observed storm related stresses.
Even with these commercial capabilities, the NOAA-SEC provides some
of the key data sources that become the input data that are used to
drive these sophisticated forecast systems and services. Of necessity,
the relationship between NOAA-SEC and the Commercial Providers is one
that is highly symbiotic; it that the Commercial Providers greatly
depend on the SEC for high quality data and data interpretations, while
the SEC looks to the commercial specialists to provide the more
specialized services that heavily impacted users may need. Therefore,
the loss of the NOAA-SEC would have the almost immediate impact of
causing the crumbling of much of the forecasting services capability of
the Nation.

Question 3. How would you compare our knowledge today of the impacts
of space weather on electric power grid systems to what we knew five
years ago, and to what we expect to know five years from now?

New York ISO CEO William J. Museler in the aftermath of the
August 14, 2003 Blackout, “the blackout could have damaged the
power plants or transmission lines,” “Had that kind of damage
occurred, it could have taken days, weeks, or even months to
restore.. . .This protection (meaning normal operation of
relays that shut down the components on the grid) shortened the
restoration process considerably.”
Advances in Understanding of Space Weather Impacts to Power Systems
Over the Past Five Years
There have been significant new findings and ever evolving
understanding of the many facets of the complex space weather
environment dynamics and the manner in which this impacts the operation
of electric power grids. Mitigation of the impacts of these storms will
depend heavily on forecast assessments of the onset, severity and
regional manifestations of these storms and it is fair to say that much
has also been achieved in this regard. While we can be proud of our
accomplishments, there remains many unresolved space weather paradoxes
of storm evolution and the manner in which they can degrade operations
of infrastructures. In particular to the electric power grids, the
major achievements can be summarized as follows, with supporting
exhibits that elaborate further on many of these main items.

Integrated and detailed modeling of both complex
geomagnetic disturbance environment and complex power grid
topologies. These advances have allowed for extensive forensic
analysis of historically important geomagnetic storms and their
impacts on power grids.

Improved understanding, as described above, has
allowed us to develop much more accurate and detailed
quantification of the areas of risk and vulnerability that
Space Weather may pose to the U.S. power grid infrastructure.
Surprisingly, we are now discovering that risks from storms are
not just limited to high latitude located power grids,
locations normally associated with auroral observations. New
understandings indicate that highly developed power grids at
all latitudes may be impacted by various space weather
disturbance processes in the U.S. and around the world that
were unknown to us just a few years ago.

These models and environment interaction
understandings have also allowed the power industry to
understand other aspects of evolving power grid vulnerability
to the space weather environment that were not fully understood
heretofore. The studies, which are part of the findings from
the EMP Commission investigations, indicate that over the past
several decades, various design decisions and growth of the
power grid infrastructure has caused growing vulnerability to
geomagnetic storms. In short, over the past 50 years, the size
of the power grid has grown by nearly tenfold, and has also
grown in sophistication such that it now presents a larger,
effective antenna to electromagnetically couple with
geomagnetic storm disturbances. This has the affect of
amplifying storm-caused disturbances in modern power systems.
This vulnerability increase is not just limited to improved
coupling due to larger grid size but also due to other related
infrastructure design decisions, as more fully described in a
recent article in Exhibit 9. The industry is also facing
growing vulnerability to space weather events due to
operational impacts that are occurring from deregulation and
transitioning to market-based operation of the power grid. The
recent blackout of August 14, 2003 highlighted many of the
infrastructure and power market operational concerns. These
concerns include continued large growth in electric power
demand in the face of diminishing growth in the transmission
network infrastructure needed for delivery of power. As a
result, power pools such as PJM report for example in year
2000, the pool experienced a total of 3830 hours transmission
network constraint operation.\1\ In other words, 44 percent of
the year power flows on the transmission system were at or very
near maximum levels. These congestion problems only worsened in
2001 as the hours of congestion of the real-time market
increased to 4823 hours ( 55 percent of the year).\2\ This
heavy loading is another way of saying that the system is
stressed to the safe operating limits and therefore unable to
readily counter or safely absorb added stress to these same
assets that could occur due to large geomagnetic storms. A
recent article, Exhibit 10, provides a more detailed commentary
on “What’s Wrong with the Electric Grid.” While it does not
speak to the subject of space weather, it concisely describes
the added burdens on today’s transmission network
infrastructure, the same portion of the infrastructure impacted
by space weather events.
—————————————————————————
\1\ PJM Interconnection State of the Market Report 2000, June 2001
\2\ PJM Interconnection State of the Market Report 2001, June 2002

The same efforts to evaluate impacts and risks of
today’s infrastructures have also allowed us to examine the
plausible risks that could result from historically large
storms that have not yet been experienced by today’s power grid
infrastructure. These studies were an especially important
focus of the EMP Commission investigations that have been
underway for the past 18 months. The results indicate that
major power grid operational impact threats loom due to these
low probability, but very large storm events. For instance, we
have examined in detail the specifics of the March 1989 super
storm and as previously discussed witnessed unprecedented power
system impacts for storm intensities that reached levels of
approximately 300 to 600 nT/min. However, the investigation of
very large storms have made us newly aware that storm
intensities over many of these same U.S. regions could be as
much as 4 to 10 times larger. This increase in storm intensity
causes a nearly proportional increase in resulting stress to
power grid operations. These storms also have a footprint that
can simultaneously threaten large geographic regions and can
therefore plausibly trigger even larger regions of grid
collapse than what occurred on August 14, 2003. Exhibit 12 is a
brief opinion article that discusses the context of the events
leading up to the August 14, 2003 blackout and how such a
scenario could in the future be triggered by a space weather
storm. Exhibit 13 provides a more detailed summary of
investigations undertaken on the U.S. power grid for impacts
caused by very large geomagnetic storm events. As shown in this
series of studies, disturbance impacts to power grid operations
could plausibly be 3 to 10 times larger in the U.S. than those
experienced in the March 1989 super storm. This paper shows one
of many possible scenarios for how a large storm could unfold.
As illustrated in Figure 8, a large region of power system
collapse is projected for severe geomagnetic disturbance
scenarios. Depending on the morphology of the geomagnetic
disturbance, it would be conceivable that a power blackout
could readily impact areas and populations larger than those of
the recent August 14,2003 blackout.

While these complex models have been rigorously tested and
validated, this is an exceedingly complex task with uncertainties that
can easily be as much as a factor of two. However, just empirical
evidence alone suggests that power grids in North America that were
challenged to collapse for storms of 400 to 600 nT/min over a decade
ago, are not likely to survive the plausible but rare disturbances of
2000 to 5000 nT/min that long-term observational evidence indicates
have occurred before and therefore may be likely to occur again.
Because large power system catastrophes due to Space Weather are
not a zero probability event and because of the large-scale
consequences of a major power grid blackout, I am compelled to, add
some commentary on the potential societal and economic impacts of such
an event should it ever re-occur. The August 14, 2003 event provides a
good case study; the utilities and various municipal organizations
should be commended for the rapid and orderly restoration efforts that
occurred. However, we should also acknowledge that in many respects
this blackout occurred during highly optimal conditions that were
somewhat taken for granted and should not be counted upon in future
blackouts. For example, an outage on January 14 rather than August 14
could have meant coincident cold weather conditions. Under these
conditions, breakers and equipment at substations and power plants can
be enormously more difficult to re-energize when they become cold. This
can translate into the possibility of significantly delayed
restorations. Geomagnetic storms as previously discussed can also
permanently damage key transformers on the grid, which further burdens
the restoration process. For that matter, these conditions could
rapidly cause serious public health and safety concerns, in that people
trapped in regions such as New York City would not have the option of a
“Night in Central Park Experience” and perhaps not be able to easily
find adequate shelter from the elements. The time of day when the
outage occurred was also a significant advantage, in that the bulk of
the utility company day crews were still available and able to be
readily dispatched to perform restoration functions. In major cities,
the blackout essentially brought to a halt most transportation systems.
All mass transit systems shutdown as they depend on electricity for
many of their functions. Traffic signal systems on most major streets
and highways stopped and as a result most major thoroughfares became
the equivalent of 8 lane parking lots in the early hours of the
blackout. Only a few major power facilities are continuously manned,
and since blackouts are possible at any hour, the odds are that 75
percent of the time the normal utility day crews are not on the job
when these events occur. Attempting to recall workers that are trapped
on the wrong side of these transportation snares is highly problematic.
In many respects, the loss of power supply returns much of our
society to a pre-industrial era, because the loss of power supply
rapidly cascaded into many other infrastructures. For example, water
and sewage plants and transportation systems generally shutdown across
the affected regions, even some 911 emergency systems and communication
systems were impacted. Power grids are arguably the most important of
the critical infrastructures because most of the other critical
infrastructures are so highly interdependent on reliable power supply
from the grid. It is clearer now that the technology age has increased
our reliance on electric power. Figure 9 shows a chart plotting the
primary interdependency links that exist between electric power and
other critical infrastructures and services such as water,
transportation, telecommunications and fuel supplies. As this
illustrates, electric power supply is central to the sustained
operation of most of the Nation’s other critical infrastructures.

Only a small portion of these infrastructure facilities have
emergency on-site generation of sufficient capacity that allows them to
continue operation in the face of a blackout event. Water treatment and
pumping require enormous amounts of electric power and as result very
few of these systems have redundant power supply options. Loss of
pumping in time will lead to drop of city water pressure, as storage
tanks and reservoirs cannot be recharged for residential distribution.
In large high-rise buildings, city supply water pressure needs to be
supplemented with electric pumps to lift water to upper floors for
water distribution. Therefore within a matter of a few hours potable
water distribution in many locations can become a serious concern.
Perishable foods are generally at risk of complete loss within 12 hours
or less. As previously discussed, transportation of all types was
seriously impacted. Even automobiles and trucks could only operate
within the range of the fuel in their tank at the time, because nearly
all refueling operations from underground storage tanks require
restoration of electric power supply.
Most affected regions were restored within approximately 24-36
hours after the blackout. As described in hearings on October 20 before
the House Financial and Banking Infrastructure Committee, the major
telecommunications (not counting wireless-cellular phone systems) and
interdependent financial systems were able to maintain many functions.
However, this was due to backup generation at a few critical hubs,
which generally have around 72 hours of available fuel. Therefore power
grid outages of longer durations would be highly problematic in that
refueling may be logistically impossible in all situations. W.A.
Abernathy, the Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions,
cautioned in his testimony that our financial institutions primarily
operate on the principle of confidence, “confidence that financial
transactions will be carried out, that checks will clear, that bills
will be paid, that investments will be made, that insurance promises
will be kept. The confidence provided by financial institutions and
their services play a big part in helping to cope with the trauma of
disaster.” An event which causes the eventual cessation of these
functions, even for a short time, in key financial centers could have
potential for wide spread consequences to the economy.
Because of the possible large geographic laydown of a severe storm
event and resulting power grid collapse, the ability to provide
meaningful emergency aid and response to an impacted population that
may be in excess of 100 million people will be a difficult challenge.
Potable water and replenishment of foods may need to come from boundary
regions that are unaffected and these unaffected regions could be very
remote to portions of the impacted U.S. population centers. As
previously suggested adverse terrestrial weather conditions could cause
further complications in restoration and re-supply logistics.

Space Weather and Power System Understandings–The Future
Given the surprising and potentially enormous implications of
recent power system threats due to space weather, it is difficult to
accurately predict what the future may bring. However, the future of
space weather is being shaped, in fact, by activities that are underway
today. Much good work is underway to continue efforts such as described
here to further understand and evaluate the potential impacts of large
storm events. While having the ability to accurately assess threats to
these infrastructures is an important accomplishment, the real payoff
of this capability is in the application of this knowledge towards
engineering solutions that reduce the risks. In order to protect
against the effects from severe geomagnetic storms, several approaches
may need to be used. In terms of the entire grid itself, remedial
measures to reduce GIC levels may be needed, such as installation of
supplemental transformer neutral ground resistors to reduce GIC flows
and undo this unintended geomagnetic antenna that has developed as the
industry has built the present day high voltage transmission grid in
the U.S. Grid operational measures can be better evaluated and tested
for the multitude of scenarios and procedures enhanced to prevent
severe voltage regulation problems in order to preserve the integrity
of the network as a whole. This means that additional generation
capacity and fast acting voltage compensating reserves should be
available and/or loads should be rapidly removed from the system. This
requires advanced information and contingency planning by the power
utilities. With the aid of continuous solar wind monitoring, it is
possible to reliably predict the onset of a storm 30 to 45 minutes in
advance. This is due to the availability of real-time satellite data
and modeling capabilities that are now within the state-of-the-art.
These capabilities are reasonably expected to further improve within
the next five years, but only as long as the Nation maintains a
commitment to gather the observational data and disseminate it for the
forecast models that can use it.

Question 4. What would be the impact to your organization and the
electric power grid industry if the SEC were no longer able to provide
its space weather forecasts to you? Please provide specific examples
when possible.

In response to this question, let me first speak to the impacts
upon the power industry should the SEC or the Nation’s space weather
forecast capability cease to exist. As previously discussed, the power
industry has been aware of the potential for some large impacts due to
storms and as recent discoveries indicate, these threats have the
potential to be even more ominous in their implications that previously
understood. It is also clear that the vulnerability that presently
exists has evolved due to long-term trends and that these trends
because they involve embedded designs to billions of dollars in assets
cannot be undone overnight. The most effective mitigation strategy in
the short-term and perhaps in the long-term is improved situational
awareness for operators of these systems from evolving space weather
disturbances and then attempting to counter some of the impacts by
providing more robust operational postures in anticipation of storm-
caused impacts.
In the era prior to solar wind monitoring and the advances in
improved solar activity monitoring, storm events would often blindside
operators with sudden onsets. Unlike most terrestrial weather, these
events develop suddenly once the threatening inputs from solar activity
arrive at the Earth. The loss of these capabilities would return us to
the 1980’s, where all that existed in many respects was a monitoring
service and storm information for the most part arrived after-the-fact
and therefore could not be usefully utilized to avoid significant
operational impacts, rather the information just confirmed for
operators what caused any impacts and only marginally better prepared
them for additional impacts from the same storm. Therefore, power grids
would have to rely almost exclusively on their own power grid monitors
for the first signs of possible storm impacts. However, these would be
a poor substitute in most respects and would create a number of
operator uncertainties and paradoxes. The operators would not be able
to receive advance notice of severe impacts that appear with sudden
onsets. For storm events that have slower evolution, it would take some
time to determine if operating anomalies are due to a geomagnetic storm
or some other event. Once they determine that it is a geomagnetic storm
then it would be necessary to be overly cautious and restrictive for
many additional hours of small storm activity because it would be
difficult to know if a larger storm development is possible. In the
aftermath of the Hydro-Quebec collapse, the operators of that system
based operational procedures on observations of local activity. In
1991, they spent nearly 10 percent of the year in geomagnetic storm
operating posture and as a result reduced substantially their ability
to transfer large blocks of power across their network and export it
outside their system. In today’s more volatile electric energy markets,
such operating postures could produce substantial added hours of
constricted operation of networks and have immediate cost impacts on
real-time electric energy markets. An example of this type of energy
market cost impact can be illustrated by a storm on July 15, 2000 and
the response of the power, market when the PJM power pool declared a
storm emergency. On July 15, 2000, the PJM declared an SMD emergency
beginning at 15:30 and declared an end to the SMD emergency at time
21:07, resulting in a period of 6 hours of emergency conditions in
which PJM follows prescribed procedures for network conservative
operation as described in Sections 3-1 to 3-5 of the PJM Operations
Manual. During this 6 hour period, the real-time price increased
approximately $40/MWH on average. Under conservative operation, the
operation of the power network biases towards security and reliability
of the network as a whole rather than just economic dispatch. As a
result, transfers across the network can be significantly reduced,
leading to re-dispatch of generation and cost increases in the real-
time market due to less optimal economics in the dispatch of generation
in this security mode of operation. Even though this storm event
occurred under light load and highly favorable market conditions, the
cumulative real-time market cost increase totaled $900,000. Storm
assessment uncertainties can extend longer than necessary operation of
the network in these restricted market conditions and add even more to
these cost impacts. During some periods of the day, energy cost
increases can be much more severe and total costs could be even higher
as a result. Of course, the economic and societal costs of large scale
failures in the U.S. power grid overwhelm all other cost concerns and
forecast efforts provided to prevent that scenario from being realized
should be of paramount concern.
Metatech is dependent for many of the forecast products we supply
upon reliable, high-cadence and high quality data from the SEC as
needed inputs into the models and forecast systems we operate. In
response to cessation of the SEC functions, we would have to
significantly alter and as a result diminish the quality of some of the
services we could provide. In addition, I would suspect that some
commercial providers may choose to simply exit the business in response
and others that might have been willing to enter the business will
instead decide not to do so. Further, it would be unlikely at this time
that any commercial provider would decide to enter the market to
shoulder the heavy burden of launching satellites and setting up and
coordinating various world observatories needed to provide important
data inputs. In short, the customers, no matter who the provider, would
have fewer options available to them and would receive an overall lower
quality of service. Lacking any official government agency responsible
for space weather forecasting, a likely development at times will be
the equivalent of a “Tower of Babel,” where information is widely
scattered amongst a large number of government, military, and
international observation sites and each speaking in a differing tongue
as to their interpretation and not one of them having complete enough
information to develop a useful “Big Picture” of the unfolding space
weather events.
Even the idea of a successor agency being handed the responsibility
that currently resides with the SEC has a number of potential impact
consequences. No matter how dedicated the new responsible agency, there
will be unavoidable losses in the transition. Any new organization
would need to successfully overcome the added start-up hurdles before
even considering how best to meet the challenges of forecasting a
difficult space weather environment. Since our company has commercial
responsibilities similar to the associated activities that the SEC must
perform to deliver their products, I can certainly state that an
operation such as this has many high maintenance and expensive tasks.
This includes such unglamorous but vital back office and field tasks
such as data collection, quality control of the data and, finally,
timely data dissemination. These all need the continuity of an
experienced and capable staff of unsung heroes to assure the high level
of reliability and availability that has been provided by the SEC.
These systems, of course, need to work in harmony with the derived
products and forecast services that are the more familiar face of the
SEC. As I have emphasized previously in my testimony, the space weather
disturbances we are attempting to forecast can have amazingly rapid
onsets and can manifest as a diverse variety of consequences to large
geographic regions. Therefore forecast staff needs to be highly trained
and experienced so they can quickly assess and judge, as there is no
time for hesitancy and uncertainty. Further all this needs to be done
on a continuous 24 hour by 7-day per week basis, as the Sun never sets
on the Nation’s threats from Space Weather disturbances. As you can
surmise, setting up a new function such as this is not a matter of
buying a few servers, installing some shrink-wrap, and parking some
people in front of a monitor. Nearly every function that is done
involves much in the way of custom systems and a high degree of
specialized human “know how.” Therefore the loss of the highly
trained and experienced staff would be an unfortunate loss of
investment by the Nation and setback our collective capabilities in
space weather forecasting.
In conclusion I would also like to offer a perspective on the long-
term needs that should further be considered by this committee in
supporting our nation’s efforts to better mitigate concerns arising
from space weather events. For example, the degree of deterioration in
the reliability of the electric power grid has been a topic of
considerable discussion, post August 14, 2003. It is now evident that
uncertainty in long-term restructuring, and lack of transmission
infrastructure investment were significant factors contributing to the
events of that day. Yet no matter how maligned, this infrastructure is
still capable of operating through “single-point” failures. In
contrast, our nation’s most important space weather monitoring assets
have no redundancy in case of failure. A loss, for example, of the
NASA-ACE solar wind monitoring satellite (at the vital L1 position in
space) would largely deprive the Nation of the ability to perform high
quality short-term forecasting of geomagnetic storms. The end of
lifetime for ACE is rapidly approaching and still no formal plans exist
by any government agency in the world for a replacement satellite.
Other examples also exist for various other observation assets that
supply needed data inputs to our space weather forecast systems. Our
grasp on the ability to perform these vital functions can be lost at
any moment in time and we may not be able to recover for a number of
years in some cases. Therefore I would also like to urge the Committee
to consider these future “heavy lifting” responsibilities in
sustaining and improving our nation’s space weather infrastructure,
once we get past this current SEC funding crisis.

Chairman Ehlers. Thank you very much.
Next, Captain Krakowski.

STATEMENT OF CAPTAIN HENRY P. (HANK) KRAKOWSKI, VICE PRESIDENT
OF CORPORATE SAFETY, QUALITY ASSURANCE, AND SECURITY, UNITED
AIRLINES

Captain Krakowski. Chairman Ehlers, Ranking Member Udall,
and Members of the Committee, on behalf of United Airlines, we
would like to thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony
with the direct bearing on flight safety, public health, and
commercial efficiency. In addition to my 25 years as a United
Airlines pilot, I am also responsible for safety, security, and
operational quality at our company.
Mr. Chairman, if you flew from Grand Rapids, Michigan to
Beijing or Hong Kong six years ago, it would have taken nearly
a day, connecting over at least two cities. Today, through the
pioneering efforts of United Airlines in cooperation with other
agencies and countries, we can now fly from Grand Rapids to
these and other Asian cities in just 16 hours with one flow
through Chicago. This is possible because of our ability to fly
over the North Pole, Russia, and China. In fact, State
Department officials involved in recent talks in China enjoyed
the convenience and efficiencies of these very flights.
Safety is always our number one priority at United
Airlines. Toward that end, while polar routing provides a
tremendous advantage of time and convenience for our customers,
everyone on these flights could be exposed to potential safety
risks that did not exist when flying at the lower latitudes.
Information we receive from the Space Environment Center
operated by NOAA ensures that United Airlines can take timely
action to mitigate the risks associated with an occasional
solar activity, which can disrupt communication, navigation,
and even impact crew member and customer health.
During such a solar activity, our company policy dictates
that United restricts flights from certain routes and
altitudes. If we are made aware of a threatening activity prior
to a flight, United will not hesitate to fly at lower altitudes
or latitudes or even incur a costly fuel stop in Japan or
China.
United is one of the few airlines which maintains an in-
house meteorology department that works with our dispatchers
and our flight crews to provide a safe, comfortable flight. We
are proud of our excellent reputation in forecasting safety
threats.
The solar environment, however, is so unique that it
requires specially trained forecasters and specific technology
not available within the commercial sector. The SEC is our only
link to that environment.

As this chart depicts, we blend the information from SEC
right into our flight planning process on both a daily and
hourly basis. The SEC provides United with daily forecasting,
monitoring, and, most importantly, immediate alerts, some of
which can affect flight operations in as short as 10 minutes.
We can demonstrate that the current process works exceedingly
well.
In our five years of flying over the North Pole, United has
found the need to alter flight plans on an average of two to
three times per month. In some cases, when the event is severe,
as we have recently experienced, we will alter flights
sometimes already in the air.

The current chart depicts an event which occurred on
October 24, our flight 895 between Chicago and Hong Kong, was
planning to fly the polar route. We replanned the route away
from the North Pole due to an R3 solar event. This routing took
an additional 30 minutes of time. We had to burn 3,000 extra
gallons of gas, and it cost United Airlines $10,000 to
operate–more to operate that given flight. We do this
regularly, if needed.
Mr. Chairman, United works with numerous government
agencies from the FAA to the TSA. NOAA and the SEC distinguish
themselves, in our opinion, by being an exceptionally
transparent and customer-oriented partner with the airlines. I
have personally visited the SEC in Boulder and can attest to
the talent and professionalism of their staff. We are concerned
that a reduction in funding could damage this important source
of real-time safety information for our company. We also are
concerned that transferring the operation to another federal
agency could cause a disruption, degradation, or even filtering
of information.
We urge you to support this program and seriously consider
the ramifications associated with the change of oversight. We
operate polar flights every day. A degradation of performance
of this entity would cause us to become overly conservative in
our flight planning, which would be costly. In our view, this
is a program not in need of a fix. In our view, it is actually
a program of American tax dollars at its best for the
protection of United States citizens.
Again, thank you for allowing me to testify, and I do look
forward to any questions you may have.
[The prepared statement of Captain Krakowski follows:]

Prepared Statement of Captain Henry P. (Hank) Krakowski

Chairman Ehlers, Ranking Member Udall and Members of the Committee,
on behalf of United Airlines, thank you for the opportunity to submit
testimony concerning a subject that has direct bearing on flight
safety, public health and commercial efficiency. In addition to my 25
years as a United pilot, I am also responsible for Safety, Security and
Operational Quality at our company.
Mr. Chairman, if you flew from a city such as Grand Rapids,
Michigan to Hong Kong or Beijing six years ago, the journey would
connect through at least two cities and take nearly a full day to
complete. Today, through the pioneering efforts of United Airlines in
cooperation with multiple countries and agencies, one can fly from
Grand Rapids to these and other Asian cities in just 16 hours with only
one connection over Chicago. This is possible by flying directly over
the North Pole, Russia and China. In fact, State Department officials
involved in recent talks with China enjoyed the convenience and
efficiency of these very flights on United between Chicago and Beijing.
Safety is always our number one priority at United Airlines. Toward
that end, while polar routing provides a tremendous advantage of time
and convenience to our customers, everyone on these flights could be
exposed to potential safety risks that did not exist when flying at
lower latitudes. Information we receive from the Space Environment
Center (SEC), operated by the National Oceanic Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), ensures that United Airlines can take timely
action to mitigate any risks associated with occasional solar storm
activity that can disrupt communication, navigation and impact
passenger and crew member health.
During such solar activity, our company policy dictates that United
restrict flights from certain routes and altitudes. If we are made
aware of threatening activity prior to the flight, United will not
hesitate to fly at lower altitudes and latitudes or incur a very costly
fuel stop.
United is one of the few airlines that maintain an in-house
meteorology department that works with our dispatchers and crews to
provide a safer and more comfortable flight. We are proud of our
excellent reputation in forecasting flight safety threats.
The solar environment, however, is so unique that it requires
specially trained forecasters and specific technology not available
within the commercial sector. The Space Environment Center the only
link to this environment. We blend the information received from the
SEC into the flight planning process daily and even hourly. The SEC
provides United with daily forecasting, monitoring and, most important,
immediate alerts some of which can affect flight operations in as
little as 10 minutes. We can demonstrate that this process works
exceedingly well.
In our five years of polar flying experience, United has found the
need to alter flight plans two or three times per month. In some cases,
when an event is severe, we will alter flights already in the air.
Please take a look at the chart that we have provided for the
Committee’s reference. As recently as last week, on October 24th,
United flight 895 from Chicago to Hong Kong planned to fly a polar
route. The flight was re-planned, however, on a more southerly route
due to a R3 magnitude solar event. This routing took 30 extra minutes
and used 3,000 gallons of extra fuel for a total added cost to the
company of $10,000 for that flight.

Mr. Chairman, United works with numerous government agencies from
the FAA to the TSA. NOAA and the Space Environment Center distinguish
themselves by being an exceptionally transparent, customer-oriented
partner with the airlines. I have personally visited the SEC in Boulder
and can attest to the talent and professionalism of this organization
and their people. We are concerned that a reduction in funding could
damage this important source of real-time safety information for our
airline. We are also concerned that transferring operation of the SEC
to another federal agency could result in a disruption, degradation or
filtering of critical information.
We urge you to support this program and seriously consider the
ramifications associated with a change in program oversight. We operate
polar flights each and every day. A degradation of performance in this
program would cause us to become overly conservative in our flight
planning. In our view, this program is not an example of a government
program that is broken and in search of a fix. Quite to the contrary,
our work in cooperation with the SEC exemplifies the use of American
tax dollars at its best for the protection of U.S. citizens.
Again, thank you for allowing me to testify before the Committee. I
look forward to any questions you may have.

Chairman Ehlers. Well, as one would–might expect from a
pilot, you are finished with two seconds to spare, so your ETA
calculation was very good.
Dr. Hedinger.

STATEMENT OF DR. ROBERT A. HEDINGER, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT,
LORAL SKYNET, LORAL SPACE AND COMMUNICATIONS LTD.

Dr. Hedinger. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My name is Robert Hedinger. I am an executive vice
president with Loral Skynet, a communications satellite service
provider, and also a division of Loral Space and
Communications. I am pleased to appear before your Subcommittee
to discuss the effects of space weather on communication
satellites and the vital role played by NOAA’s Space
Environment Center.
I would also like to mention that the Satellite Industry
Association has also developed a record for this committee,
which I would like to attach to our record, as well.
Chairman Ehlers. Without objection, so ordered.
Dr. Hedinger. Okay. Thank you.
I would like to provide the Subcommittee with some
background on the economic importance of the U.S. satellite
industry and then address specific questions included in your
letter of invitation. Additional supporting material has been
provided in the attachments to my record.
Let me begin by pointing out the significant commercial
investment and critical telecommunication services that are at
risk resulting from space weather effects. As the attached
charts in the record will demonstrate, $49.8 billion of revenue
was generated and $12.1 billion of investments were made in
2002 in this industry. And these figures are expected to grow
over the next 10 years. Critical commercial satellite
applications that are provided on this infrastructure include:
direct to home entertainment video and audio services,
nationwide services; broadcast and cable television, all of the
networks have satellite distribution networks; radio and audio
distribution; satellite news gathering; the collection of
critical news events from events that are occurring across the
country; paging services; location and tracking services; rural
and remote access services for telephony, data, and Internet;
critical services for remote education and telemedicine; data
communications to hundreds of thousands of locations used by
the retail industry for such applications as point of sale
terminals, credit card processing, and inventory tracking.
I would now like to address, in more detail, the questions
that you had addressed in your invitation.
The first question: “How does space weather affect
satellite communications?” Temporary and/or permanent damage
to on-board equipment resulting from electrostatic discharges,
the space–the surface of the spacecraft can be charged with
the large amounts of charged particles in the environment and
then discharged, causing an electrical spark, which can damage
equipment. Performance degradations and service outages due to
particle events, in particular, electrical sensors, which are
used for maintaining pointing accuracy of the spacecraft, can
be–can experience a similar effect to fog as a result of
having high-energy particles around the sensors. Altitude
control and pointing errors due to magnetic field variations.
Certain spacecraft rely on a strong magnetic field to target
the spacecraft to keep it aligned. When a geomagnetic storm
occurs, the magnetic field fluctuates and sometimes can become
quite weak and not be strong enough to drive the momentum of
the spacecraft. So these are some of the major impacts that
space weather has on the satellites.
The next question is: “How do satellite operators use the
data that is provided by NOAA?” I see I am running short on
time. I would love to go through a long list. There is a lot of
this information in the document, but to cut it short, we can
prepare ourselves for a lot of events that could be detrimental
to the spacecraft ahead of time. We take precautionary
measures. We may set up a reconfiguration of the spacecraft
that, instead of having automated commands, we send manual
commands to the spacecraft. Because of the environmental
changes that take place, they could mask some true events that
are occurring and cause satellites to go into a mode which is
undesirable.
The third question you asked was: “What has happened in
the last five years? What do we expect in the next five
years?” Over the last five years, we have certainly gotten
more data, but more importantly, we have had access to that
data in a much more rapid and user-friendly environment as a
result of the NOAA SEC approach to distributing this
information to the commercial satellite industry. The next five
years, we know that there is continuing research that needs to
be done. In specific–specifically, we would love to have
additional forecasts that can be specific about orbital
locations and the impacts on very specific satellites.
The fourth question: “What would we do without it?” We
couldn’t live without this data. We need this data. It is
absolutely critical for our operations.
In summary, Mr. Chairman, the functions that NOAA SEC
performs to model, predict, and send out alerts on space
weather has been, and continues to be, critical to commercial
satellite operators. NOAA SEC has provided excellent service to
communication satellite operators. It is critical to the
commercial satellite industry that NOAA SEC continue providing
these services without disruption.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Hedinger follows:]

Prepared Statement of Robert A. Hedinger

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, my name is Robert
Hedinger, I am an Executive Vice President with Loral Skynet, a
communications satellite service provider, and a division Loral Space
and Communications Ltd. I am pleased to appear before your Subcommittee
to discuss the effects of space weather on communications satellites
and the vital role played by NOAA’s Space Environment Center.
I would like to provide the Subcommittee with some background on
the economic importance of the U.S. satellite industry and then address
the specific questions included in your letter of invitation.
Additional supporting material has been provided in the three
attachments.
Let me begin by pointing out that significant commercial investment
and critical telecommunications services are at risk resulting from
space weather effects. As the attached charts in Appendix A
demonstrate, $49.8 billion of revenue was generated and $12.1 billion
of investments were made in 2002 in this industry and these figures are
expected to grow in the next ten years.
Critical Commercial Satellite Applications include;

Direct to Home Entertainment Video and Audio Services

Broadcast and Cable TV

Radio and Audio Distribution

Satellite News Gathering

Paging Services

Location and Tracking Services

Rural and Remote Access Service for Telephone, Data
and Internet

Critical Services for Remote Education and
Telemedicine

Data communications to hundreds of thousands of
locations used by the retail industry for such applications as
point of sale terminals (credit card processing) and inventory
tracking.

Answers to Questions Asked in the Letter of Invitation

To address your first question, space weather can affect satellite
operations in the following ways:

Temporary and/or permanent damage to on-board
equipment resulting from electrostatic discharges

Performance degradations and services outages due to
particle events

Attitude control and pointing errors due to magnetic
field variations

Additional information and examples are provided in Appendix B.

To address your second question, satellite operators use data and
products from NOAA’s Space Environment Center (SEC) in the following
ways:

By being prepared, the Satellite Control Centers
(SCC) operated by Loral and other service providers can reduce
the amount of service outage time by focusing on the corrective
action more quickly (avoiding some of the initial
troubleshooting).

By communicating these events to our customers, Loral
can provide them the ability to plan around potential problems.

By activity scheduling, Satellite Control Centers can
avoid sensitive maneuvers and housekeeping functions during
peak storm activity.

In some instances, SEC data is used in real-time to
determine the cause of observed anomalies. Using the SEC data
the SCC is able to determine if a reconfiguration of the
spacecraft is warranted, or if the storm is small enough that
we can maintain the current configurations.

As part of the due diligence that is performed after
every spacecraft anomaly, the SEC data is also analyzed. This
is done to see if there is a link between the solar environment
and the anomalous condition.

Loral also uses the archive data from the SEC during
the spacecraft design and analysis activities.

Additional information and examples are provided in the Appendix B.

To address your third question, five years ago there was less
information available and the data format was difficult to work with
(fax, paper copies, etc). This has improved significantly over the last
five years to allow better access to the available information. Data is
now available online and viewable at an individual engineers terminal.
In the next five years we expect to see a more reliable early
warning system, a continuing improvement in the knowledge of the space
environment through improved detectors and analysis tools for better
spacecraft designs, and improvements in dynamic modeling for specific
orbit locations.
Additional information is provided in Appendix B

To address your fourth question, the impacts to Loral and other
commercial satellite operators of not being able to access the SEC
services would be severe. Without the SEC information, satellite
operators would not be able to cancel maneuvers based on solar
environment levels and consequently we would not be able to avoid
potential damage to the spacecraft. Service outages would also occur
more often and be longer in duration. Spacecraft design quality would
be compromised without access to current and accurate Space Weather
Data.

In summary:

The functions that NOAA SEC performs to model,
predict, and send out alerts on space weather has been and
continues to be critical to Commercial Satellite Operators.

NOAA SEC has provided excellent services to
Commercial Satellite Operators.

It is critical to the Commercial Satellite Industry
for NOAA SEC to continue providing these services without
disruption.

APPENDIX B

Answers to Specific Questions Concerning Space Weather

Question 1

Please provide an overview of how space weather can affect satellite
operations, including examples of historical events that have caused
problems.

Charging Effects
Space weather affects the way the spacecraft body (or internal
components) is charged. The spacecraft can only hold so much charge
before it reaches a threshold for discharge. During extreme charging
environments, this discharge occurs spontaneously and it is called an
Electro Static Discharge (ESD) event. As an ESD event potentially
contains a large amount of energy, it can be very hazardous to the
spacecraft.
Spacecrafts have had major component failures that have been
directly related to specific ESD events. On some spacecraft, several
ESD events of the same type have occurred. These events have gradually
weakened circuitry leading eventually to equipment failure. In
addition, ESD events have lead to temporary upset of the spacecraft
configuration. All of these events have led to customer outages until
the operators have had time to reset the operational configuration
using redundant equipment. Imagine if such an event happens during the
Super Bowl or World Series. Until a switch over to a redundant
transmission path happens, it can affect the TV Broadcasters by causing
millions of dollars lost in advertising revenue and a set tens of
millions of viewers.
Loral has experienced ESD events on several of their own spacecraft
as well as spacecraft supplied to customers. Critical pieces of
equipment have been lost due directly to ESD events including momentum
wheels, and heaters/thermisters. We have had power equipment, earth
sensors, payload units and telemetry and command equipment change
operational state. We have had an accumulation of ESD events causing
failure of solar array circuits. All of these events have the potential
of temporarily or permanently reducing commercial communication or
weather service to customers.

Immediate Particle Events
Sudden increase of protons and electrons caused by a storm can
cause immediate problems that are not related to charging. The biggest
concern here is in partially blinding sensor equipment. On most
commercial spacecraft this problem is limited to the instrumentation
responsible for determining pointing (earth sensors, star sensors,
etc). During a big storm, these sensors do not operate to their full
efficiency as they are partially blinded by much noise. Loral has seen
attitude control system trips due to this type of particle induced
noise. These trips normally result in loss of pointing control (or
reduced pointing control) in at least one axis. If the error grows
beyond our tolerance, service is affected.

Magnetic Events
Some spacecraft use the Earth’s magnetic field for control of
pointing. These spacecraft have electro-magnets on board. These magnets
interact with the Earth’s magnetic field putting a torque on the
spacecraft. The magnets on the spacecraft are activated as needed to
control pointing. During solar storms that affect Earth’s magnetic
field, these spacecraft often have trouble maintaining pointing
control. Without a strong magnetic field for the magnets to interact
with, their efficiency is reduced greatly. During these times it is
required to change the spacecraft’s actuators from magnetics to
thrusters in order to maintain service.

Question 2

How does your organization use data and products from NOAA’s Space
Environment Center (SEC)? In general, how much lead time do you need to
make decisions for mitigating the effects of space weather?

Preparatory
In a perfect world, one week lead time would be desirable. If we
had forecast data for the next week, this could be worked into our
weekly activity plan. As this is not currently available, we utilize
the data as it is available. Some of the warnings for the smaller
storms only provide a few hours of notice. These we use in a real time
manner when executing activities. Warnings for potentially large storm
normally give a day or two to prepare. As these are the potentially
more devastating storms, Loral uses this information as described in
the following three sections.

Internal Advisements
Due to increased problems during solar storms as well as the
potential necessity to run specialized procedures, Loral utilizes the
SEC warnings to prepare. When a warning comes out that meets Loral’s
criteria for potential problems, internal advisements are issued. These
advisements serve to prepare the Satellite Control Centers for any of
these potential non-standard operations. By being prepared, the
Satellite Control Centers can reduce the amount of service outage time
by focusing on the corrective action more quickly (avoiding some of the
initial troubleshooting).
The SEC site is monitored in real time 247. As events such as
earth sensor glitches or attitude error hold off are encountered, the
controllers in Loral’s Satellite Control Center perform analysis to
determine the next step. This analysis utilizes both spacecraft
telemetry as well as the real time data from the SEC site. It is
important to understand the current state of the spacecraft as well as
the expected growth (or diminish) of the storm’s strength before taking
action.

External Communications
Loral performs external communications to its customers (called a
code Orange) when space weather predicts reach predetermined values.
This allows our customers to plan for potential spacecraft problems. By
communicating these events to our customers, Loral provides them the
ability to plan around potential problems. This provides them the
ability to increase their service reliability.

Activity Scheduling
On some spacecraft, we have found a susceptibility to particular
failures if certain events are performed during elevated levels of
solar activity. In these cases, we check the solar forecast prior to
scheduling the events in order to determine the likeliness of being
able to execute them. We also check the space weather again just prior
to execution of these events before proceeding in order to avoid
problems.
An example of this is a spacecraft that has a change of state in
the solar array drive electronics every time we perform a maneuver with
elevated solar activity. As the problem involves an illegal state
within the control electronics, we have been warned by the manufacturer
to limit the number of times that this phenomenon occurs. The worry is
that if we let it fail too often, we will weaken the path such that we
will not be able to return the state back to normal. Without access to
solar weather data, we would not be able to control this.
Another example of this also involves maneuver execution. Prior to
performing a maneuver, Loral uses the SEC site to determine whether
there is an expected proton event pending. As these types of storms
tend to cause problems for the Earth sensing equipment, it is important
to keep the spacecraft’s attitude quiet during one of these events. If
a maneuver were performed during one of these events multiple problems
could be encountered. These problems include difficulty in calibrating
the attitude fine control sensors, excessive attitude control firings
or even potential attitude safety system trips.

Real-Time
In some instances, SEC data is used in real-time to determine the
cause of issues. Examples of these are multiple earth sensor glitches
or small attitude hold off. All of these have some affect on the
pointing of the spacecraft. When these issues occur, the personnel in
the SCC check the real-time data on the SEC site to see if there is a
link. If the problems are a result of increased solar activity the
information is escalated. We create an internal advisement and
distribute them. If the activity is of sufficient level escalation will
continue to our external customers.
Using the SEC data the SCC is able to determine if a
reconfiguration of the spacecraft is warranted, or if the storm is
small enough that we can maintain the current configurations. Examples
of this reconfiguration are:

If a proton event of sufficient strength is on-going, and expected
to continue for sometime, we would disable automatic on-board momentum
unloads. As the wheels respond to the increased earth sensor noise, the
spacecraft control algorithms mistake this for a buildup of momentum.
The spacecraft will then fire thrusters to take care of this momentum.
This firing of thrusters should not be occurring as them is no real
build up of momentum.
During a magnetic storm, it is very useful to know the expected
strength and length of time. This is due to our choices for control
methods. For a weaker storm, we could increase the on-board magnetic
current to try to compensate. For stronger storms, the increase in on-
board magnetic current would not be enough to overcome the weakness in
the Earth’s magnetic field. In these cases, we need to go to a thruster
control mode. These methods will allow for the continued control of
roll. As both methods will cause problems with yaw control, it is
important to know how long the storm will continue in order to correct
the yaw error.

Post Processing
As part of the due diligence that is performed after every
spacecraft anomaly, the SEC data is also analyzed. This is done to see
if there is a link between the Solar environment and the anomalous
condition. On every fish bone analysis Loral has been a part of, the
solar environment plays an important part. Often this information has
been critical in identifying the space environment as being the cause.
This has led to modification of the spacecraft design to improve its
immunity to the spade environment and to eliminate the particular
failure mode.
Loral also uses the archive data from the SEC during the spacecraft
deign and analysis activities.

Question 3

How would you compare our knowledge today of the impacts of space
weather on satellite operations to what we knew five years ago, and to
what we expect to know five years from now?

Last five years
During the last five years, we have expanded our understanding of
the solar environment greatly. However, the biggest change in the last
five years goes beyond what we have learned. The biggest change is in
how we utilize it. Five years ago there was less information available
(as far as what is being monitored), and it was difficult to work with
(fax, paper copies, etc.). This has improved over the last five years
to allow better access to the information. Data is now available online
and viewable at an individual engineers terminal.
Having this data available has allowed a larger team across the
industry to analyze the information to show relations to other events.
One example is on one of our spacecraft. If we get a solar storm of
sufficient magnitude late in an eclipse season, we often also get a
transponder shut off coincident with it.
Having the Solar Environment data available allows us to better
understand patterns that might otherwise never be understood.
Next five years
I think the industry push at this point is on two fronts:

1) The need for a more reliable early warning system. There
has been much individual work on this from many sources. Though
the obstacles to overcome are daunting, this would be the
single biggest improvement for the next five years.

2) The improvement in the knowledge of the space environment.
Although we have made great strides in understanding of the
space environment, there are still several holes in on
knowledge. Improved detectors and analysis tools are needed to
provide for better spacecraft designs. Another area of
improvement is modeling for specific orbit location. This is a
4D (3 axis with time) modeling to view how the local orbit
environment changes with time.

Question 4

What would be the impact to your organization if SEC were no longer
able to provide its space weather forecasts? Please provide specific
examples when possible.

Impact
The impacts to Loral of not being able to access the SEC would be
severe. Many of these have been mentioned in the answers to the
previous questions.
One spacecraft whose health would be most adversely affected would
be the spacecraft that exhibits an anomaly with its solar array drive
electronics. On this spacecraft, when a maneuver is performed during
elevated solar activity, the solar array drive electronics switches
into an illegal state (stopping the solar array). Each time this has
happened, the solar array drive electronics have been commanded back
into a normal state successfully. There is a concern that if this
phenomenon were allowed to occur too often, we would be unable to
command the solar array drive electronics back into a normal state.
Without the SEC information, Loral would not be able to cancel
maneuvers based on solar environment levels and consequently we would
not be able to avoid this circumstance.
Service outages would also be more often and longer in duration. By
having space weather forecast available, Loral is able to prepare in
advance for potential situations. For example if a major proton event
is expected (or occurring), the spacecraft can be configured to better
ignore earth sensor glitches. In addition, the Satellite Control Center
(SCC) can be prepared for potential anomalous events associated with
the storm. In the case of an earth sensor glitching problem growing to
a more serious problem on the spacecraft, the SCC can often reconfigure
before any problems affects service. In the case of a magnetics loss of
control, the sooner the SCC configures the spacecraft for the solar
storm, the lower the attitude error will be.
Another way in which Loral would be affected is the overall
spacecraft design quality. Spacecraft Manufacturers use information
learned in anomaly investigations to improve their future designs. The
better they are able to determine root causes to problems, the better
they will be able to improve their designs. The best way to ensure the
highest quality root cause analysis is to ensure access to the best
data. This includes in-orbit telemetry data, design documents and space
weather data. If information on the space environment were not
available the spacecraft manufacturer would note able to consider this
in the design and testing of his spacecraft or correlate design
improvements on orbit.

Discussion

Chairman Ehlers. And thank you. And thank you to all of the
witnesses. Very good testimony.
We will now proceed with questions. And the Chair will ask
the first questions. We each have five minutes, and we will–
and that includes both the question and your answer, but we
won’t cut your answer off in mid-sentence, so don’t worry about
that.

Space Environment Center (SEC) Funding

First, I have a question. I hate to ask yes or no
questions, but this is a simple one, and I would like to ask
each of you to respond with a yes or no answer. In your
opinion, should the Federal Government reduce or eliminate
funding for NOAA’s Space Environment Center? Dr. Hildner.
Dr. Hildner. My answer is that the funding should not be
reduced or eliminated.
Chairman Ehlers. Colonel Benson.
Colonel Benson. No.
Chairman Ehlers. Dr. Grunsfeld.
Dr. Grunsfeld. No.
Chairman Ehlers. Kappenman.
Mr. Kappenman. No.
Chairman Ehlers. Krakowski.
Captain Krakowski. No, sir.
Chairman Ehlers. Hedinger.
Dr. Hedinger. No, sir.
Chairman Ehlers. Thank you.

The Appropriate Organization for Forecasting Space Weather

Second is–I would like to ask another question. Is there a
compelling reason why the functions of the SEC should be moved
to another agency, without specifying the agency? For example,
is NOAA not providing services to you at the expected level or
in the useful manner, or do you think some other branch of
government would be more effective? Again, we will go reverse
this time. Dr. Hedinger.
Dr. Hedinger. I believe the NOAA SEC is the most
appropriate place to have this fall.
Chairman Ehlers. Okay. Captain Krakowski.
Captain Krakowski. Mr. Chairman, we believe that this is
one of the finest examples of a well-running effort, and we
don’t see any reason at all to make a change.
Chairman Ehlers. Mr. Kappenman.
Mr. Kappenman. Since I wear both the power industry hat as
well as a commercial provider that essentially competes with
SEC in some aspects, I would like to answer that we think SEC
is the most appropriate agency from both perspectives.
Chairman Ehlers. That reminds me, incidentally, of someone
I knew who once questioned the need for NOAA and the National
Weather Service said, “I get all of the weather I need from
the TV programs.” Since you–unfortunately, it was a
Congressman, but he lost his next election. But at–from your
position as both a user and competitor, that is a very
meaningful answer.
Dr. Grunsfeld.
Dr. Grunsfeld. I think that the Space Environment Center
and its relationship with NASA and I know for the United States
Air Force and NOAA that this is a good example of how
government agencies work well together, so I see no compelling
reason why we would want to move it.
Chairman Ehlers. Colonel Benson.
Colonel Benson. I–sir, I would see no compelling reason to
move the functions.
Chairman Ehlers. And Dr. Hildner, I assume I know your
answer, but go ahead.
Dr. Hildner. I think you know NOAA’s answer, but let me
comment that our partnerships with the other agencies are
already so good that I see no compelling reason to move space
weather services out of NOAA.
Chairman Ehlers. I–let me just add that–I believe it was
Captain Krakowski mentioned another point and that is, although
I am sure that one of the military arms of the government could
easily do this, there is also the possibility of filtering
during a time of national emergency that simply the information
would not flow freely. And I think we want to avoid that as
well, in spite of their ability to do this.
Another follow-up question on that, and that is, would it
make any sense for a non-governmental agency to do this either
on a fee-for-service basis, excuse me, or under government
contract? And we will go this way again. Dr. Hildner.
Dr. Hildner. Thank you.
We regard space weather as extremely analogous to the
meteorological weather service. And so many of the arguments
that we apply to the meteorological services and why those
should be free to all users I believe apply equally to the
space weather service. Let me comment with Mr. Kappenman
sitting here that NOAA tends to predict and synthesize the
space weather environment, and we leave it to commercial folks,
for a fee, to tailor those products to specific systems that
are affected by space weather events.
Chairman Ehlers. Colonel Benson.
Colonel Benson. No, sir, I wouldn’t be in favor of changing
who provides the data and how it is being procured.
Chairman Ehlers. Dr. Grunsfeld.
Dr. Grunsfeld. Well, at NASA, we are very protective of our
national assets in space, as I am sure the Air Force is, as
well. And we have a very good relationship with the SEC in
meeting our needs, and I think we see no reason why we would
want to change that.
Chairman Ehlers. Mr. Kappenman.
Mr. Kappenman. I also don’t believe that it would be very
practical or efficient to transfer this sort of function wholly
to a commercial provider.
And if I could just speak a few seconds on the nature of
the partnerships that we see developing in the commercial
providers of space weather forecasts versus what NOAA does. If
we look at NOAA’s mission, they are to provide public
information. And we actually see the medical industry as being
how we are aligning ourselves and forming ourselves. Where NOAA
is the general practitioner, handles most of the medical
situations, but where you have a very serious space weather
health problem from an infrastructure operator standpoint, you
should be working with a specialist who can take that NOAA
information and also knows how your infrastructure is impacted
and work with you very closely on those very serious problems.
Chairman Ehlers. Are you going to change your name from
Applied Power to Applied Clinic?
Captain Krakowski.
Captain Krakowski. When I consider the evolution of our
navigation systems to become more dependent on satellites, and
the FAA is another government agency that we have to work with
in our navigation and communication issues, it seems like
keeping it within a federal functionality seems right to us.
Chairman Ehlers. Okay. Dr. Hedinger.
Dr. Hedinger. Thank you.
Yes, at this point in time, I think that the services that
are provided by NOAA SEC are generally applicable across a very
broad environment, which is the right place to have a
government service provide it. It spans the commercial
industry, the government industry, and very many other types of
functions. Clearly, there are opportunities for some secondary
applications that would be in the area of this–that we have
just described here. But the functions that NOAA SEC perform
would definitely be—-
Chairman Ehlers. Thank you for your comments. My time is
expired, but I hope you will also, as individuals, express
those opinions outside this room with the other Members of
Congress who are involved in this situation.
My time is expired. I am pleased to recognize the Ranking
Member, Mr. Udall.

SEC Budget Compared to Other Federally Funded Programs

Mr. Udall. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. If I might, I would
like to build on your line of questioning and start with the
three witnesses who serve in the public sector.
And if I could, I would like to put the SEC’s $8 million
budget into context. As I see it, the–that budget is a very
small part of the total federal budget for space weather. And
Dr. Hildner, if I could start with you and move across, how
does the SEC’s budget compare with federal funding for the
design, development, acquisition, and operation of space and
ground-based sensors and for the research that has made space
weather possible?
Dr. Hildner. I am reluctant to answer about the details of
the expenditures in other agencies, but I believe that it is in
the billions–or a billion dollars or so of research and sensor
development for–that is applicable to space weather.
Mr. Udall. Colonel Benson.
Colonel Benson. Could you repeat your question, sir?
Mr. Udall. What I was trying to get at is we spend $8
million for the SEC function, but I wanted to put that in the
context of all of the assets that we deploy as well as the
research and development that we do in other federal arms.
Colonel Benson. I can’t speak for the total amount in the
rest of the federal arms, but it is a minute fraction compared
to the value of the assets that we have on orbit and that we
spend for R&D.
Mr. Udall. Dr. Grunsfeld, before you reply, I just want to
welcome you. It is nice to see you again. Dr. Grunsfeld visited
Boulder and the Ball Aerospace Company and has done some great
work in repairing the Hubble Telescope as a space walker. And
he is also a climber, and he fit in that comment about the–
that small subset of interested people who ascend high
mountains above 8,000 meters who would be subject to space
weather events. And we want to take care of those people as
well. So welcome, and great to see you here.
Dr. Grunsfeld. Thank you very much. Thank you for that
recognition.
The–NASA has, you know, quite a few number of assets. Just
in space science alone, I think we have about 30 satellites
that are operational right now, including the Hubble Space
Telescope, which, I think, was about $1.6 billion. And so if
you look at the $8 million as a kind of insurance policy, you
know, it would be an usually small percentage compared to any
other insurance that anybody would consider. It is, you know,
certainly less than a percent.
Mr. Udall. Thank you. And yes, it is great to see you here,
and thanks for all that you do.

Private Sector Interaction With the SEC

If I could extend now a set of questions to those of you
from the private sector, and your testimony, I think, was very
compelling. And I think you have answered this in part, but I
want to give you another chance to amplify on your comments. Is
your interaction with the SEC a one-way interaction? In other
words, do you receive these forecasts or do you–are you also
in a position where you are solicited for advice and input from
the SEC?
Mr. Kappenman. Clearly, it is a two-way relationship. We
depend, of course, very heavily upon the SEC to gather and
disseminate data at high quality, high cadence that is needed
for these environments. We do have a very successful and
healthy interaction on what the important features of the
environment are, where we can both serve the Nation and the
important infrastructures better through things that we can do
better in the space environment fields.
Captain Krakowski. While we use their products on a daily
basis, the products themselves are not very useful unless we
understand how to use them. And I think one of the greatest
interactions of SEC was them opening their doors to us and
their arms to have us come out to Boulder and learn all about
this phenomena before we started to do this kind of flying. So
it is very interactive and we do appreciate their warmth and
their ability and willingness to help educate companies like
ours on these sorts of issues.
Mr. Udall. Dr. Hedinger.
Dr. Hedinger. Thank you.
Yes. I would like to reiterate that this is a very
interactive relationship and a very customer-friendly
relationship. The progress that has been made here in the last
five years of getting real-time online access to data that we
use on a day-to-day basis. In fact, our satellite control
center right now is determining how to reconfigure satellites
to minimize impacts.
Mr. Udall. Thank you.

SEC Improvements Within the Current Budget

If I could turn back to Dr. Hildner. Dr. Hedinger testified
that Loral Skynet expects to see a series of things over the
next five years: a more reliable warning system, improvements
in knowledge of the space environment, improvements in dynamic
modeling for specific orbit locations, and other changes and
added products. Do you think NOAA or other partner agencies
could supply these improvements if the funding level would
remain at the $5 million proposed point at this time?
Dr. Hildner. No. I could amplify that answer, if you would
like.
Mr. Udall. I–no, I think that is perfect.
If I might just get one last question in and to Dr. Hildner
once again. The testimony here, I think, suggests that we ought
to be investing more in space weather. I am assuming that the
budget, the Administration’s budget of $8 million would
maintain current capabilities and provide some funding for
improvements. What opportunities would we be missing if we
don’t invest in additional efforts when it comes to space
weather forecasting?
Dr. Hildner. You are absolutely correct that at the
President’s requested level we would be able to maintain our
operations and make modest improvements. But we stand at a
confluence of increasing demands, and some of which you have
heard about today, and expectations from our customers, and at
the same time, a great increase in opportunity. The DOD, NSF,
and NASA are spending a great deal of money for research, new
sensors, and so forth, which SEC, even at the President’s
requested budget, will not be able to incorporate into
operations. In other words, the Nation’s investment in space
weather services improvements will not be garnered if SEC
continues on at its current level of effort.
Mr. Udall. I thank the panel and the Chairman for his
forbearance in extending a little more time to me. This is a
very important topic. Thank you again.
Chairman Ehlers. Thank you.
We have a few more questions, and so we will start a second
round. I understand Mr. Gutknecht does not–so I will begin
with the second round. And I would point out, incidentally,
before I do that, that again, I did a quick mental calculation.
If you should receive the President’s request, which is $8
million, that comes to just a bit more than three cents per
capita in the United States. When you consider that if a
commercial satellite went out that was carrying a television
program, everyone would spend eight cents to call their TV–
cable provider to complain, they would spend more than twice as
much as they are spending to maintain the warning system.

Sensors Aboard the Aging Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE)
Spacecraft

My next question is for Dr. Hildner, Grunsfeld, and Colonel
Benson. One of the most vital sensors for providing advanced
warning in radiation and magnetic storms is located on, pardon
me, NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer, sometimes called the
ACE spacecraft. Yet this spacecraft is currently operating
beyond its design life and there are no plans to continue
collecting this type of solar wind data once ACE ceases to
operate. Are NOAA, NASA, and the Air Force planning for a way
to continue obtaining this vital data? And we will start with
NOAA on this one. Dr. Hildner.
Dr. Hildner. The difficulty with the ACE spacecraft
approaching its end of life and the possibility of not getting
those enormously important data has been recognized in NOAA.
And we are considering requesting the Congress for additional
funds to obtain those data.
Chairman Ehlers. Let me just ask, the NPOESS satellites
will be going up. It is a joint Air Force/NOAA effort. Could
a–could one of these sensors be added to that satellite?
Dr. Hildner. NPOESS will have an improvement in the near-
Earth space environment sensors, but because they are in polar
orbit near Earth, they do not give us that advanced warning
that the ACE satellite does one percent of the way from the
Earth toward the sun out in the solar wind.
Chairman Ehlers. One percent, you said, of the distance?
Dr. Hildner. The ACE is stationed at—-
Chairman Ehlers. It is about nine million miles?
Dr. Hildner. It is about—-
Chairman Ehlers. Fifteen kilometers—-
Dr. Hildner. About one million miles. It is 93 million
miles to the sun, so one percent—-
Chairman Ehlers. Right.
Dr. Hildner [continuing]. Is about one million miles—-
Chairman Ehlers. Yeah. Right.
Dr. Hildner [continuing]. Toward the sun from Earth, and
that is the place where the Earthward forces and the sunward
forces balance and the spacecraft will sit there.
Chairman Ehlers. Yeah.
Colonel Benson.
Colonel Benson. Sir, we rely on the ACE data for the solar
wind estimation. The Air Force has just launched, as of two
weeks ago, a new block of DMSP satellites, Defense
Meteorological Satellite Program. And in this new block of
satellites, we have a series of space weather sensors on there.
But they are in the low-Earth orbit, and they don’t have a
package specifically designed to do what the ACE program does.
Chairman Ehlers. Dr. Grunsfeld.
Dr. Grunsfeld. Hopefully the ACE spacecraft will keep
operating beyond its nominal lifetime margin for a good,
healthy long time. And the National Academy, in its NRC report,
did identify the source of these types of data as being
critically important. And so that is something that the Office
of Space Science, you know, has in its strategic planning. But
as yet, I am not specifically aware, for our research
activities, of any plans to replace that capability.
Chairman Ehlers. Is this an expensive satellite?
Dr. Grunsfeld. It is one of our explorer class satellites,
and, you know, I am not sure what, in this context,
“expensive” is. It is not–you know, it is not in the, you
know, great observatory class. It is one of the smaller
satellites.
Chairman Ehlers. Yeah. Okay. I–we will have to pursue that
in the Committee, and–because I think that is a self-evident
thing to do.
Dr. Grunsfeld. And we can provide you with more information
about some of the experiments in the pipeline and how they
might relate to this.
Chairman Ehlers. All right. I would appreciate that,
because it shouldn’t be that expensive if it is a single-
purpose satellite. It takes–of course, it takes a fair amount
of horsepower to get it up that far, but that is something we
will pursue.
I have no other questions at the moment. Mr. Udall, do you
have—-

Vulnerability to Industry From Space Weather Events

Mr. Udall. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to take
this opportunity to direct a couple of questions at the
witnesses from the private sector.
Would you say that your organizations operations have
become more vulnerable to space weather events over time or is
it solely a matter of having gained a better understanding of
the link between space weather events and specific problems you
encounter during operations? Again, we can start with Mr.
Kappenman and move across.
Mr. Kappenman. Yeah. In the prepared testimony, I do cite
quite a bit of evidence that the power industry has learned
that indicates that we are, because of various design changes,
growth of the power grid and so forth, we are unequivocally
growing more and more vulnerable to space weather. That being
said, we are also learning much about space weather impacts.
And we may not know exactly how vulnerable we really are. We
know right now we are extremely vulnerable.
Mr. Udall. Um-hum.
Mr. Kappenman. And we also know that it is not going to be
easy to become unvulnerable or invulnerable and undo what has
essentially transpired through billions of dollars of
investment in infrastructure, 50 years or more of development
of that infrastructure.
Mr. Udall. Captain Krakowski.
Captain Krakowski. Thank you, sir.
Yeah, we are–five years ago, were it not for the ability
to have airplanes fly over 16 hours, we really could not even
entertain dealing with such a risk. But now with the commercial
opportunities opening up wider between Asia and the United
States and the ability to fly longer range flights with the new
technology airplanes coming up, this is somewhat new to us—-
Mr. Udall. Um-hum.
Captain Krakowski [continuing]. Which is why we are so
interested in it.
The other aspect of it is, well, as we contemplate moving
more toward GPS-type navigation systems and away from land-
based systems, there is an additional concern of what this kind
of weather–solar weather impact would mean to that very
critical infrastructure. And I think we are still in the
learning mode with some of that.
Mr. Udall. Dr. Hedinger.
Dr. Hedinger. Thank you, Congressman Udall.
I think there are really two areas here. One is just the
volume of services that have grown over the last several years.
An example is the direct to home market. Now we have
approximately 20 million households erect a home receiver. Five
years ago, how many was that? But it has changed dramatically,
and that continues to grow. But it is just the amount of
business that is in space, the amount of business that depends
on space for its revenue, so that is becoming more critical.
The other thing is the new technologies that are being
developed. With the–there is a move toward on-board processing
to be able to provide more efficient communications and more
economical access services. An example is the new KA band on-
board processing satellites. These are likely to be more
sensitive to space weather since there are computer chips, et
cetera, on board the spacecraft.
Thank you.

Vulnerability to Federal Agencies From Space Weather Events

Mr. Udall. Perhaps I could ask the government witnesses to
comment on this as well, if you would, and again, Dr. Hildner–
and I–if I restate the question. Would you say that
organizations in the government operations have become more
vulnerable to space weather events over time or is it solely a
matter of having gained a better understanding of the link
between solar weather events and specific problems that we
encounter during operations?
Dr. Hildner. I would say it is the former. We have become
more vulnerable, and partly because we have become more
technological and those technological systems, as we become
more dependent upon them, they, in fact, are becoming more
vulnerable. And so we are becoming more vulnerable.
Mr. Udall. Colonel Benson.
Colonel Benson. Sir, I would agree with Dr. Hildner. I
think we are more vulnerable as we require–rely more and more
on space-based assets. Those vulnerabilities are there for the
assets that we have on orbit. Even our Global Positioning
System has effects from space weather as far as the errors that
are driven by space weather events. So our dependency on GPS
has also magnified the impacts of a space weather event on
navigation systems.
Mr. Udall. And I–space command based in Colorado, and I
was sure that General Lord and others would underline what you
had to say about the effects on our space command.
Dr. Grunsfeld.
Dr. Grunsfeld. Well, I think first and foremost, we are
interested in the safety of our crew. And I am very proud to
say that, you know, we are coming up on having three years of
human international crews living in space all of the time, 365/
24/7. And so in that respect, we certainly are more vulnerable.
In addition, we are kind of a victim of our own success in
technology in that the capability of the microchips and the
technology that goes into constructing all of the space assets
that we have talked about have gotten a lot smaller and more
compact and using technology that, in a sense, is more
vulnerable to space radiation.

Relationship With the International Community

Mr. Udall. I thank the panel, and I might extend a request
to the Chairman, I–we–one area we didn’t cover was the
relationship we have with the international community and their
space weather forecasting capabilities and how we coordinate
and whether there would be an effective–if the SEC was to be
put out of business or the funding–the necessary funding
wasn’t in place, but—-
Chairman Ehlers. Dr. Hildner, if you would just like to
just answer that, comment on that.
Dr. Hildner. I would be happy to. In the interest of time,
we had not mentioned our international partnership. There is an
outfit called the International Space Environment Service. It
has 12 regional warning centers around the world. NOAA’s center
in Boulder is one of those regional-warning centers. All of
those centers exchange data actually through Boulder every day.
And then Boulder synthesizes all of that information and puts
out the global forecast as the world-warning agency of the
International Space Environment Service. Of course, that would
all go away if we were eliminated.

The Vital Role and Responsibilities of the SEC

Chairman Ehlers. The gentleman’s time is expired. I would
just like to conclude this hearing by several comments. First
of all, it is obvious to me from your comments, Mr. Udall, that
far too much government money is going to Colorado. And
probably the SEC should move to Michigan where it would be
closer to the Aurora Borealis. You could at least have the
pleasure of observing that. More importantly, it is clear from
today’s hearing that the services that NOAA’s SEC provides are
unique and vital to our nation and its citizens every day, much
more so than people realize, and as we just heard, also
important to those of other countries.
Secondly, it is neither within the mandate nor the mission
of the Air Force or NASA to take on these crucial
responsibilities. And it is my opinion that a transfer of this
sort, at this time, would require significant expenditures on
the part of the Federal Government and certainly above the $8
million sought by the Administration for the SEC. It would also
be very disruptive to the entire program.
So I believe that it is certainly advisable that this
committee go on record as preserving the SEC precisely where it
is. There is no reason to change it. “If it ain’t broke, don’t
fix it,” as the old saying goes, and so let us keep it going.
And I hope–we will certainly pass this information on to the
appropriators in the House and Senate. And I hope that all
other interested parties would express that as well.
The fact that we are discussing this precisely as a space
storm is occurring, and I understand that Japan has lost–
temporarily lost one satellite and is about to lose another,
indicates the importance of the work that is being done here.
Before I close, I just simply have a little housekeeping.
I, first of all, want to thank you very, very much for your
participation. We couldn’t have had a better panel, broadly
representative of the issue in both the governmental sector and
the industry, and I appreciate your time. And above all, I
appreciate your wisdom. So thank you for taking the time to be
here.
If there is no objection, the record will remain open for
additional statements from the Members and the answers to any
follow-up questions the Subcommittee may ask of the panelists.
And without objection, so ordered. And I would assume you would
be willing to respond to questions in writing, should they come
up.
Thank you again for your service, and it is my pleasure to
declare the hearing adjourned just in time for another vote.
The hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 12:03 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]

Appendix 1:

———-

Biographies, Financial Disclosures, and Answers to Post-Hearing
Questions

Biography for Ernest Hildner

Dr. Hildner is the Director of NOAA’s Space Environment Center. The
Center is the Nation’s 24-hour-a-day center for alerts, warnings and
watches related to space weather. Under his direction, SEC also
conducts research and consults on space weather instrument development
for NOAA, NASA, and the Aid Force.
Dr. Hildner is a solar physicist who has worked for the High
Altitude Observatory, NCAR, and at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center as
head of its Solar Physics Branch. He was fortunate to be experiment
scientist for Skylab and the Solar Maximum Mission during the 70’s. His
scientific speciality is coronal and interplanetary physics, in which
he has published dozens of papers. He co-holds one patent for a
variable-magnification x-ray telescope.
In addition to his administrative responsibilities with NOAA, Dr.
Hildner is a Co-chair of the Committee on Space Weather for the
National Space Weather Program, is a member of the advisory committees
for the NOAO National Solar Observatory and NCAR High Altitude
Observatory, and serves on review panels for NASA and DOD projects.

Answers to Post-Hearing Questions

Responses by Ernest Hildner, Director, Space Environment Center,
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Space Environment Center

Q1. In Col. Benson’s written testimony it is mentioned twice that the
complementary nature of the Air Force Space Weather Operations Center
and the SEC allows each agency to realize significant cost savings.
What is the dollar amount saved as a result of the Air Force and NOAA
collaboration on space weather?

A1. The National space weather enterprise, with complementary service
centers in NOAA and U.S. Air Force Weather, depends on a critical
shared database with contributions from NOAA and the USAF complementing
each other. However, the savings to the Nation go far beyond the
collaborating service centers. NOAH would have to replace and pay for a
large fraction of the USAF-provided data if USAF no longer provided it.
Conversely, USAF would have to pay tens of millions of dollars per year
for the sensors and their data now provided by NOAA, should NOAA no
longer provide them.
USAF operates the ground-based Solar Environmental Observing
Network of observatories around the world. NOAA has no equivalent data
in the near-term for the data provided by this $20M per year network.
Additionally, USAF pays the U.S. Geological Survey $150k per year to
help it operate a ground-based magnetometer network so the data can be
provided in near real-time to both USAF and NOAA. NOAA’s Space
Environment Center distributes to the public some products created at
U.S. Air Force Weather Agency’s center in Omaha; one of these is the
immediate, three-hourly estimate of the value of the index
characterizing global geomagnetic activity. This index is of great
interest to civilian users; NOAA would have to create the product if
USAF did not, at an estimated expense of $2M to port the software.
Finally, USAF Space Command flies sensors on the Defense Meteorological
Space Program (DMSP) series of spacecraft. The data are archived at
NOAA’s National Geophysical Data Center and used by Space Environment
Center. The model NOAA plans to use to characterize and predict the
ionosphere is being developed with USAF funding of about $10M and will
be driven by data from DMSP. NOAA will save the $10M up-front cost of
the model and the annual cost of fabricating and flying the instruments
and getting the data because of USAF investments.
In all, we estimate that NOAA would have to spend several tens of
millions of dollars per year to sustain the same level of services if
USAF dropped from the national collaboration in space weather.

Q2. One of the most vital sensors for providing advanced warning of
radiation and magnetic storms is located on NASA’s Advanced Composition
Explorer spacecraft. Yet, this spacecraft is currently operating beyond
its design life and there are no plans to continue collecting this type
of solar wind data once ACE ceases to operate. Are NOAA, NASA and/or
the Air Force planning for a way to continue obtaining this vital data?
If so, please explain the strategy.

A2. Real-time solar wind measurements from upstream of Earth, now
obtained from NASA’s ACE research spacecraft, are among the most vital
data for providing space weather services. The ability to warn of
geomagnetic storms approximately an hour in advance is due solely to
these data. Delayed solar wind measurements, available from other NASA
spacecraft operating in a “store and dump” mode, are of no
operational benefit, though they have research value. ACE has already
completed its prime research mission, but has been selected by NASA for
extended operations, because of new, high-priority scientific goals
that can be addressed with this valuable national asset. The spacecraft
has enough propellant on board to maintain its new, looser, non-optimal
for space weather purposes, orbit around Lagrange Point 1 (L1) until
late into the next decade.
ACE has been a unique resource in that it continuously transmits,
all day–every day, in near real-time, solar wind and energetic
particle data that can be acquired by relatively small ground-based
antennas. No other spacecraft can do that; unless the ACE capability
for space weather is replaced, when ACE dies NOAA, its partners,
industrial space weather service companies, and end users will all lose
valuable products and services. Geomagnetic storms are especially
important to electric power grid operators and radio communicators
(including airlines).
NOAA, NASA and the USAF, will continue to consider options for
providing ACE-like data.

Biography for Charles L. Benson, Jr.

Colonel Charles L. Benson, Jr., is commander of the Air Force
Weather Agency. He leads over 900 agency members at 20 locations around
the world providing centralized weather products and services,
including climatological and space weather support, to USAF, U.S. Army,
special operations national intelligence community and other DOD
activities. He executes a worldwide weather support mission, that
provides decision assistance to combat, reconnaissance, command and
control, presidential support, treaty verification and airlift missions
directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, theater commanders, and major
command commanders.
Colonel Benson has served as a wing weather officer in Korea;
executive assistant to the Commander, Air Weather Service, Scott AFB,
IL; and Chief of the Advanced Systems Management Section, Offutt AFB,
NE. He has commanded a weather detachment in Kansas and served as a
program element monitor in Headquarters USAF’s Directorate of Weather.
Colonel Benson was assigned to Headquarters USAF’s Directorate of
Operational Requirements as Chief of Force Enhancement Requirements. He
has served as Director of Weather for Headquarters Air Mobility
Command’s Tanker Airlift Control Center; Chief of Protocol for the
Commander in Chief, United States Transportation Command; and Deputy
Commander, 60th Support Group, Travis AFB, California.
Prior to his arrival at Offutt AFB, Colonel Benson commanded the
United States Air Force Academy’s 34th Support Group.

EDUCATION

1977 Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology, Texas A&M University
1978 Officer Training School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
1985 Master’s degree in Meteorology, St. Louis University
1986 Air Command and Staff College (Correspondence)
1990 Distinguished Graduate, Naval War College’s Naval Command & Staff,
Naval War College, Newport, R.I.
1991 Master’s degree in National Security & Strategic Studies, Naval
War College, Newport, R.I.
1995 Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

ASSIGNMENTS AND DATES

1. September 1978-April 1981, wing weather officer, 463rd Tactical
Airlift Wing, Dyess AFB, Texas
2. April 1981-June 1982, wing weather officer, 8th Tactical Fighter
Wing, Kunsan Air Base, Korea
3. June 1982-January 1984, executive assistant to the commander, Air
Weather Service, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois
4. January 1984-June 1985, student, St. Louis University, St. Louis,
Missouri
5. June 1985-October 1987, chief, Advanced Systems Management
Section, Air Force Global Weather Central, Offutt Air Force Base,
Nebraska
6. October 1987-August 1990, commander, Detachment 23, 9th Weather
Squadron, McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas
7. August 1990-December 1991, student, Naval War College, Newport,
R.I.
8. December 1991-November 1992, program element monitor, Deputy Chief
of Staff for Air and Space Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force,
Washington, D.C.
9. November 1992-August 1994, chief, Force Enhancement Requirements,
Directorate of Operational Requirements, Deputy Chief of Staff for Air
and Space Operations, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
10. August 1994-June 1995, student, Air War College, Maxwell Air Force
Base, Alabama
11. June 1995-September 1997, director of weather, Tanker Airlift
Control Center, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force
Base, Illinois
12. September 1997-August 1998, chief of protocol, U.S. Transportation
Command, Scott Air Force Base, Illinois
13. August 1998-April 1999, deputy commander, 60th Support Group,
Travis Air Force Base, California
14. April 1999-May 2001, commander, 34th Support Group, U.S. Air Force
Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado
15. May 2001-August 2002, vice commander, Air Force Weather Agency,
Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
16. August 2002 to Present, commander, Air Force Weather Agency,
Offutt AFB, Nebraska

AWARDS AND DECORATIONS

Legion of Merit

Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters

Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster

Air Force Achievement Medal

EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION

Second Lieutenant August 15, 1978

First Lieutenant August 15, 1980

Captain August 15, 1982

Major June 1, 1989

Lieutenant Colonel June 1, 1993

Colonel April 1, 1999
Answers to Post-Hearing Questions
Responses by Colonel Charles L. Benson, Jr., Commander, Air Force
Weather Agency

Questions submitted by Chairman Vernon J. Ehlers

Vital Sensors

Q1. One of the most vital sensors for providing advanced warning of
radiation and magnetic storms is located on NASA’s Advance Composition
Explorer (ACE) spacecraft. Yet, this spacecraft is currently operating
beyond its design life and there are no plans to continue collecting
this type of solar wind data once ACE ceases to operate. Are NOAA, NASA
and/or the Air Force planning for a way to continue obtaining this
vital data? If so, please explain the strategy.

A1. Air, Force Weather (AFW) has a requirement for solar wind data, but
does not field space-based systems. AFW has advocated for solar wind
data and will continue to do so. We continue to advocate for
environmental monitoring capabilities and to leverage existing and
proposed Air Force Space Command, NASA, and NOAA satellites and
sensors. Once ACE ceases to operate, we will be without the data it
provides with no other viable alternative system immediately available.

Dollar Amount Saved

Q2. In your written testimony it is mentioned twice that the
complementary nature of the Air Force Space Weather Operations Center
and the SEC allows each agency to realize significant cost savings.
What is the dollars amount saved as a result of the Air Force and NOAA
collaboration on space weather?

A2. The estimated annual space weather operations cost savings for the
Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) is $11.4M. This cost savings is
comprised of $6.8M from leveraging the research and technology
transition performed by SEC. Additionally, there would be an up-front
cost (significantly greater that the annual operation costs of $10M)
to initially set up all of SEC’s operations and research at AWA, if
SEC’s mission was transferred to the Air Force.

Biography for John M. Grunsfeld

PERSONAL DATA: Born in Chicago, Illinois. Married to the former Carol
E. Schiff. They have two children. John enjoys mountaineering, flying,
sailing, bicycling, and music. His father, Ernest A. Grunsfeld III,
resides in Highland Park, Illinois. Carol’s parents, David and Ruth
Schiff, reside in Highland Park, Illinois.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Highland Park High School, Highland Park,
Illinois, in 1976; received a Bachelor of science degree in physics
from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1980; a Master of
science degree and a doctor of philosophy degree in physics from the
University of Chicago in 1984 and 1988, respectively.

ORGANIZATIONS: American Astronomical Society. American Alpine Club.
Experimental Aircraft Association. Aircraft Owners and Pilot
Association.

SPECIAL HONORS: W.D. Grainger Fellow in Experimental Physics, 1988-89.
NASA Graduate Student Research Fellow, 1985-87. NASA Space Flight
Medals (1995, 1997, 1999, 2002). NASA Exceptional Service Medals (1997,
1998, 2000). NASA Distinguished Service Medal (2002). Distinguished
Alumni Award, University of Chicago. Alumni Service Award, University
of Chicago. Komarov Diploma (1995), Korolov Diploma (1999, 2002).

EXPERIENCE: Dr. Grunsfeld’s academic positions include that of Visiting
Scientist, University of Tokyo/Institute of Space and Astronautical
Science (1980-81); Graduate Research Assistant, University of Chicago
(1981-85); NASA Graduate Student Fellow, University of Chicago (1985-
87); W.D. Grainger Postdoctoral Fellow in Experimental Physics,
University of Chicago (1988-89); and Senior Research Fellow, California
Institute of Technology (1989-92). Dr. Grunsfeld’s research has covered
x-ray and gamma-ray astronomy, high-energy cosmic ray studies, and
development of new detectors and instrumentation. Dr. Grunsfeld studies
binary pulsars and energetic x-ray and gamma ray sources using the NASA
Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, x-ray astronomy satellites, radio
telescopes, and optical telescopes including the NASA Hubble Space
Telescope.

NASA EXPERIENCE: Dr. Grunsfeld was selected by NASA in March 1992, and
reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1992. He completed one
year of training and is qualified for flight selection as a mission
specialist. Dr. Grunsfeld was initially detailed to the astronaut
Office Mission Development Branch and was assigned as the lead for
portable computers for use in space. Following his first flight, he led
a team of engineers and computer programmers tasked with defining and
producing the crew displays for command and control of the
International Space Station (ISS). As part of this activity he directed
an effort combining the resources of the Mission Control Center (MCC)
Display Team and the Space Station Training Facility. The result was
the creation of the Common Display Development Facility (CDDF),
responsible for the on-board and MCC displays for the ISS, using
object-oriented programming techniques. Following his second flight, he
was assigned as Chief of the Computer Support Branch in the Astronaut
Office supporting Space Shuttle and International Space Station
Programs and advanced technology development. Following STS-103, he
served as Chief of the Extra-vehicular Activity Branch in the Astronaut
Office. Following STS-109 Grunsfeld served as an instructor in the
Extra-vehicular Activity Branch, and worked on the Orbital Space Plane,
exploration concepts, and technologies for use beyond low earth orbit
in the Advanced Programs Branch. He is currently the NASA Chief
Scientist detailed to NASA Headquarters. A veteran, of four space
flights, STS-67 (1995), STS-81 (1997), STS-103 (1999) and STS-109
(2002), Dr. Grunsfeld has logged over 45 days in space, including 5
space walks totaling 37 hours and 32 minutes.

SPACE FLIGHT EXPERIENCE: STS-67/Astro-2 Endeavour (March 2-18, 1995)
was launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and returned to land
at Edwards Air Force Base, California. It was the second flight of the
Astro observatory, a unique complement of three ultra-violet
telescopes. During this record-setting 16-day mission, the crew
conducted observations around the clock to study the far ultra-violet
spectra of faint astronomical objects and the polarization of ultra-
violet light coming from hot stars and distant galaxies. Mission
duration was 399 hours and 9 minutes.
STS-81 Atlantis (January 12-22, 1997) was a 10-day mission, the 5th
to dock with Russia’s Space Station Mir, and the 2nd to exchange U.S.
astronauts. The mission also carried the Spacehab double module
providing additional mid-deck locker space for secondary experiments.
In five days of docked operations more than three tons of food, water;
experiment equipment and samples were moved back and forth between the
two spacecraft. Grunsfeld served as the flight engineer on this flight.
Following 160 orbits of the Earth the STS-81 mission concluded with a
landing on Kennedy Space Center’s Runway 33 ending a 3.9 million mile
journey. Mission duration was 244 hours, 56 minutes.
STS-103 Discovery (December 19-27, 1999) was an 8-day mission
during which the crew successfully installed new gyroscopes and
scientific instruments and upgraded systems on the Hubble Space
Telescope (HST). Enhancing HST scientific capabilities required three
space walks (EVA). Grunsfeld performed two space walks totaling 16
hours and 23 minutes. The STS-103 mission was accomplished in 120 Earth
orbits, traveling 3.2 million miles in 191 hours and 11 minutes.
STS-109 Columbia (March 1-12, 2002). STS-109 was the fourth Hubble
Space Telescope (HST) servicing mission. The crew of STS-109
successfully upgraded the Hubble Space Telescope installing a new
digital camera, a cooling system for the infrared camera, new solar
arrays and a new power system. HST servicing and upgrades were
accomplished by four crew members during a total of 5 EVAs in 5
consecutive days. Grunsfeld served as the Payload Commander on STS-109
in charge of the space walking activities and the Hubble payload. He
also performed 3 space walks totaling 21 hours and 9 minutes, including
the installation of the new Power Control Unit. STS-109 orbited the
Earth 165 times, and covered 3.9 million miles in over 262 hours.

Answers to Post-Hearing Questions

Responses by John M. Grunsfeld, Chief Scientist, National Aeronautics
and Space Administration

Question submitted by Chairman Vernon J. Ehlers

Q1. One of the most vital sensors for providing advanced warning of
radiation and magnetic storms is located on NASA’s Advanced Composition
Explorer spacecraft. Yet, this spacecraft is currently operating beyond
its design life and there are no plans to continue collecting this type
of solar wind data once ACE ceases to operate. Are NOAA, NASA and/or
the Air Force planning for a way to continue obtaining this vital data?
If so, please explain the strategy.

A1. NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) was launched in August
1997 from the Kennedy Space Center. It carried six high-resolution
sensors and three monitoring instruments to sample low-energy particles
of solar origin and high-energy galactic particles with a collecting
power 10 to 1,000 times greater than past or planned experiments. In
addition, the ACE payload includes a real-time space weather monitoring
capability, and NOAA has used this for space weather prediction.
ACE has already completed its prime research mission, and in the
2003 Senior Review process, it was selected for extended operations
because of new, high-priority scientific goals that can be addressed
with this valuable national asset. The spacecraft has enough propellant
on board to maintain an orbit at Lagrange Point 1 (L1) until late into
the next decade.
ACE has been somewhat of a unique resource because of the type of
solar wind data it collects; therefore, NASA has devised a plan to
continue collecting similar solar wind data after ACE ceases to
operate. NASA is currently moving the Wind spacecraft into L1 to serve
as a “hot” backup to ACE in order to maintain our research capability
in the area of solar wind turbulence. The Solar and Heliospheric
Observatory (SOHO) will also provide complementary data. NASA believes
that these resources will ensure continued research and data collection
in this discipline in the event that ACE is no longer able to produce
useful scientific research.

Questions submitted by Democratic Members

Q1. Is the ISS currently operating with a waiver due to the lack of
functional radiation monitors on board?

A1. No. There are currently several functional radiation monitors on
board the International Space Station (ISS), including both Russian and
U.S.-provided hardware. There is a waiver in place for the Tissue
Equivalent Proportional Counter (TEPC), which is one part of the
overall ISS on-orbit radiation monitoring system.

Q1a. Is the fact that the Space Environment Center can provide
predictions one of the justifications used to grant the waiver?

A1a. There is no overall waiver granted for radiation monitoring
because there is functional equipment currently on orbit. The TEPC
waiver was presented and approved at the 10 March 2003 ISS Vehicle
Control Board. During the discussions regarding the waiver, continued
availability of space weather warnings, alerts, and real-time data on
solar proton fluxes from the Space Environment Center (SEC) were
mentioned as an additional rationale for why it was acceptable to
continue without the TEPC.

Q1b. Is NASA currently depending on the SEC in order to provide
direction to the ISS crew about radiation protection actions?

A1b. Yes. Real-time data provided by the SEC are the primary
information used in developing recommendations to the flight control
team. This team directs the crew to take appropriate actions to
minimize their radiation exposure.

Q1c. Did the Space and Life Sciences Directorate highlight the
“potential that ground-tracked radiation and forecasting from
satellites will be reduced or eliminated in FY 2004 (NOAA)” as a
concern in their Stage Ops Readiness Rev. meeting on Sept. 24, 2003,
while preparing for the launch of the current ISS crew?

A1c. Yes. The Johnson Space Center (JSC) Space and Life Science
Directorate (SLSD) highlighted the potential risk posed by the loss of
SEC data in the September 24, 2003 SORR discussions and in the October
2, 2003 Flight Readiness Review (FRR).

Q1d. When does the waiver expire?

A1d. The waiver for the ISS TEPC expired October 31, 2003 and is in the
process of being extended to April 2004.

Q2. Is the failure of the TEPC one of the elements that led to the
recommendation by two managers responsible for monitoring the ISS
environmental systems not to launch the current crew to ISS?

A2. The lack of a functional on-orbit TEPC was one element of the
overall degradation of on-orbit real-time environmental monitoring on
ISS that raised concerns.

Q2a. Was their ultimate decision to agree to go ahead with the launch
based on plans to launch a replacement TEPC aboard Progress Flight 14?
When is that launch scheduled to occur?

A2a. Yes. Launching a TEPC on ISS Flight 14P (Progress M-49) was one of
the specific items cited in the exception to the ISS Flight 7S (Soyuz
TMA-3) CoFR. At the time of the CoFR, 13P was scheduled for launch in
November 2003 and 14P was scheduled to launch in January 2004. Since
that time, the launch of 13P has moved to no earlier than late January
2004. As a result, NASA has requested that the TEPC be manifested on
13P. The manifest for 13P is still under review.

Q2b. Was the TEPC replacement originally scheduled to fly aboard
Progress 12, but removed because it cost too much to certify it to fly
on a Russian vehicle?

A2b. The original schedule envisioned launching the TEPC in Nov. 2003
on ISS Flight 13P. However, work on recertifying the TEPC for launch
was delayed for several months because of funding issues. Because of
this delay, the JSC Engineering Directorate determined that the
hardware could not be ready for delivery in time for ISS Flight 13P, so
TEPC was moved to ISS Flight 14P. When the 14P Progress missions
slipped, NASA requested that the TEPC be manifested on ISS Flight 13P
(January 2004). The manifest for ISS Flight 13P is currently under
review. This TEPC required additional certification to meet Russian
launch requirements (Progress launch vibration test), as well as some
additional testing to allow operation in the Russian segment of the ISS
(i.e., Russian power qualification).

Q2c. Is it important to have the TEPC installed aboard the ISS no
later than January to calibrate it as the Sun approaches the minimum
activity levels of its 11-year cycle?

A2c. Ideally, in order to be prepared for the earliest potential
maximum crew exposure to solar radiation, the TEPC should be on orbit
by April 2004. This date is driven by the following considerations:
during the last solar cycle, the time of maximum crew exposure preceded
the point of actual solar minimum by nine months; SEC’s current
projection of future solar activity levels places solar minimum
sometime between January 2006 and July 2007. Using January 2006 as the
earliest possible date for solar minimum, the point of maximum crew
exposure would be nine months earlier–or April 2005. If the TEPC is on
orbit by April 2004, NASA will be able to collect data for at least one
year prior to the point of maximum crew exposure; this will allow us to
develop a baseline of performance for the TEPC on orbit, as well as to
track the exposure rise to solar minimum.

Biography for John G. Kappenman

Education

Graduated with High Honors from South Dakota State University in
1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering.
Member of Eta Kappa Nu, Tau Beta Pl, and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Societies.

Professional Experience

1998-Present Metatech Corp, Joined firm in Senior Management Position
as Division Manager of Applied Power Solutions Division. He directs the
development of products, services, and consulting that are provided to
clientele world-wide and primarily focusing on Geomagnetic Disturbances
& Space Weather, Lightning, and substation and power system engineering
and related specialty products.

1977-1998 Minnesota Power Held a number of professional positions in
the organization, 1978-1980 Special Studies Engineer, 1981-1994
Supervisor of Transmission Planning Department, Responsible for
Development and Conceptual Design in excess of $100 million in
Transmission Construction Projects. 1994-1998 Manager of Transmission
Power Engineering Department. Responsible for Substation and Control
Engineering Functions arid associated Technology Transfer.

1995-1998 University Minnesota-Duluth Dept. of Electrical & Computer
Engineering–Instructor for Senior Technical Elective Courses in Power
Systems and Senior Seminar.

Other Professional Activities; Faculty Member of the Electromagnetic
Transients Program extension courses held at the University of
Minnesota in 1982 and at the University of Wisconsin in 1984. Faculty
member for the EMTP courses at the University of Minnesota Extension
Program since July 1990. He has served as Chairman of the Industry
Advisory Board for the University of Minnesota Center for Electric
Energy. He has served on a National Academy of Sciences Panel on the
National Geomagnetic Initiative. In March 1997, he was invited by the
Presidents Commission on Critical Infrastructure Protection to brief
the Commission on the “The Impact of Space Weather on Power Systems
and their Operation.” He is also a member of the Organizing Committee
for the NATO Advanced Science Institutes Conference on Space Weather
Hazards being held in June 2000 in Crete. Mr. Kappenman has also served
as a member of the Science Advisory Panel in July 2000 to the NOAA
Space Environment Center. He was on the Scientific Organizing Committee
of the NATO Advanced Research Workshop on Effects of Space Weather on
Technology Infrastructure (ESPRIT) held in Rhodes in March 2003. He is
a member of the Editorial Advisory Committee to the AGU International
Journal of Space Weather. He is one of the founders and current
Chairperson of the Commercial Space Weather Interest Group.
He has been an active researcher in power delivery technologies and
his primary engineering contribution has been his research work on
magnetic storms and their disruptive effects on electric power systems.
He is leading a design team to develop forecasting and mitigation
techniques. He has also been a collaborator with EPRI and Global
Atmospherics on the development and application of the Fault Analysis
and Lightning Location System that will allow economic Location-
Centered mitigation of lightning to transmission networks, work for
which he has been granted a U.S. Patent. He is also one holds a U.S.
Patent for his design of this device. He has been a principle
investigator on a number of EPRI research projects on these and other
subjects.
Mr. Kappenman is one of the principle investigators under contract
with the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from
Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP Commission). The EMP Commission was
established by Congress under the provisions of the Floyd D. Spence
Defense Authorization Act of 2001, Public Law 106-398, Title XIV. The
EMP Commission was chartered to conduct a study of the potential
consequences of a high altitude nuclear detonation on the domestic and
military infrastructure and to issue a report containing its findings
and recommendations to the Congress, the Secretary of Defense, and the
Director, FEMA.

Engineering, Scientific and Professional Societies

He is a Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers and the Power Engineering Society, and has served
as the Chairman of the Transmission and Distribution Committee (1994-
1996). He is also a member of the following IEEE Working Groups: GIC
and Power System Effects, Flexible AC Transmission, and Lightning
Performance of Transmission Lines and Distribution Lines. He is a
member of the American Geophysics Union. Registered as Professional
Engineer in the State of Minnesota, License #25100.

Honors and Awards

He is a recipient of the IEEE Walter Fee Outstanding Young Engineer
Award. The Westinghouse Nikola Tesla Engineering Award, two IEEE PES
Prize Paper Awards and twice awarded EPRI Innovator Awards.

Principal Publications

J.G. Kappenman, V. Koschik, F.E. Hammerquist, W.E. Reid, R.G. Rocamora,
“The Existence and Control of Secondary Arc Current Harmonics
in Long-Line Single-Phase Reclosing Applications,” IEEE PAS
Transactions, Vol. PAS-99, July/August, 1980, Paper a80 006-7,
page 1318.
J.G. Kappenman, “Planning, Design, and Application of a 500kV Single-
Phase Reclosing Scheme,” Paper presented at the 1980 Minnesota
Power Systems Conference, October 14-15, St. Paul, MN.
N. Mohan, J.G. Kappenman, V.D. Albertson, “Harmonics and Switching
Transients in the Presence of Geomagnetically-Induced
Currents,” IEEE PAS Transactions, Vol. PAS-100, February 1981,
pp. 585-593.
V.D. Albertson, J.G. Kappenman, N. Mohan, G.A. Skarbakka, “Load-Flow
Studies in the Presence of GeomagneticallyInduced Currents,”
IEEE PAS Transactions, Vol. PAS-100, February 1981, pp. 594-
607.
J.G. Kappenman, V.D. Albertson, N. Mohan, “Current Transformer and
Relay Performance in the Presence of Geomagnetically-Induced
Currents,” IEEE PAS Transactions, Vol. PAS-100, March 1981,
pp. 1078-1088.
J.G. Kappenman, V.D. Albertson, N. Mohan, Investigation of
Geomagnetically Induced Currents in the Proposed Winnipeg-
Duluth-Twin Cities 500kV Transmission Line, Electric Power
Research Institute Report EL-1949, July 1981.
J.G. Kappenman, G.A. Sweezy, V. Koschik, K.K. Mustaphi, “Staged Fault
Tests with Single Phase Reclosing on the Winnipeg-Twin Cities
500kV Interconnection,” IEEE PAS Transactions, Vol. PAS-101,
March 1982, pp. 662-673.
N. Mohan, V.D. Albertson, T.J. Speak, J.G. Kappenman, M.P. Bahrman,
“Effects of Geomadnetically-Induced Currents on HVDC Converter
Operations,” IEEE PAS Transactions, Vol. PAS-101, November
1982, pp. 4413-4418.
J.G. Kappenman, F.S. Prabhakara, C.R. French, T.F. Clark, H.M. Pflanz,
V.D. Albertson, N. Mohan, Mitigation of Geomagnetically-Induced
and DC Stray Currents, Electric Power Research Institute Report
EL-3295, December 1983.
Editor, Coordinator, and Co-Author of the IEEE Special Publication
90TH0291-5 PWR, “Effects of Solar-Geomagnetic Disturbances on
Power Systems,” Sponsored by the PES Technical Council,
Special Panel Session Report from the IEEE FES Summer Meeting,
July 1989, Long Beach, CA.
J.G. Kappenman, V.D. Albertson, “The Geomagnetic Storm of March 13,
1989: Power System Effects,” Paper presented at the 1989
Minnesota Power Systems Conference, October 3-5, 1989, St.
Paul, MN.
J.G. Kappenman, “Field Tests to Measure Large Power Transformer
Behavior to GIC Excitation,” EPRI Conference on
Geomagnetically-Induced Currents, EPRI Publication TR-100450,
pages 6.1-16, November 8-10, 1989, San Francisco, CA.
J.G. Kappenman, D.L. Carlson, G.A. Sweezy, “GIC Effects on Relay and
CT Performance,” EPRI Conference on Geomagnetically-Induced
Currents, EPRI Publication TR-100450, pages 10.1-16, November
8-10, 1989, San Francisco, CA.
V.D. Albertson, J.G. Kappenman, “Measuring GIC,” Paper presented at
the EPRI Conference on Geomagnetically-Induced Currents,
November 8-10, 1989, San Francisco, CA.
J.G. Kappenman, V.D. Albertson, “Mitigation of GIC,” Paper presented
at the EPRI Conference on Geomagnetically-Induced Currents,
November 8-10, 1989, San Francisco, CA.
J.G. Kappenman, G.A. Sweezy, S.R. Norr, “GIC Mitigation: A Neutral
Blocking/Bypass Device Conceptual Design and Performance
Evaluation,” Paper presented at the EPRI Conference on
Geomagnetically-Induded Currents, November 8-10, San Francisco,
CA.
J.G. Kappenman, S.R. Norr, G.A. Sweezy, D.L. Carlson, V.D. Albertson,
J.E. Harder, B.L. Dchmsky, “GIC Mitigation: A Neutral
Blocking/Bypass Device to Prevent the Flow of GIC in Power
Systems, IEEE FES Special Publication 90TH0357-4-PWR, Special
Panel Session July 17, 1990, pages 45-52.
J.G. Kappenman, V.D. Albertson, “Bracing for the Geomagnetic Storms,”
feature article for IEEE Spectrum Magazine, pp. 27-33, March
1990.
J.G. Kappenman, “Geomagnetic Disturbances and Power System Effects,”
Solar Terrestrial Predictions Workshop Proceedings, U.S. Dept
of Commerce, NOAA, pp. 131-141, May 1992.
J.G. Kappenman, S.R. Norr, “Application of Phase Shifting Transformers
in the Upper Midwest,” IEEE Special Publication, Current
Activity in Flexible AC Transmission Systems, Publication #92TH
0465-5PWR, April 1992, pp. 45-52.
J.G. Kappenman, “Static Phase Shifter Applications and Concepts,”
EPRI FACTS Conference Proceedings, EPRI TR-101784, December
1992.
J.G. Kappenman, D.L. Van House, “Thyristor Controlled Phase Angle
Regulator Applications and Concepts for the Minnesota-Ontario
Interconnection,” EPRI FACTS Conference 3, October 1994.
S. Nyati, M. Eitzmann, J. Kappenman, D. VanHouse, N. Mohan, A. Earls,
“Design Issues for a Single Core Transformer Thyristor
Controlled Phase-Angle Regulator,” IEEE Transactions on Power
Delivery, October 1995, Vol. 10, Number 4, pp. 2013-2019.
J.G. Kappenman, D.L. VanHouse, “Utility Fault Diagnostics: Use of the
National Lightning Detection Network at Minnesota Power,”
International Lightning Detection Conference, Tucson, Arizona,
Feb. 1995.
J.G. Kappenman, “Emerging Power Delivery Technologies: `Location-
Centered Lightning Mitigation’ and `Transformer Dynamic
Rating’, A Utility Perspective of the Operational and Economic
Benefits,” EPRI Power Delivery Conference, Washington DC, May
1996.
J.G. Kappenman, “Geomagnetic storms and Their Impact on Power Systems:
Lessons Learned from Solar Cycle 22 and the Outlook for Solar
Cycle 23,” IEEE Power Engineering Review, May 1996, pp. 5-8.
J.G. Kappenman, D.L. Van House, “Location-Centered Mitigation of
Lightning-Caused Disturbances,” IEEE Computer Applications in
Power, Vol. 9, July 1996, pp. 36-40.
J.G. Kappenman, L.J. Zanetti, W.A. Radasky, “Space Weather From a
User’s Perspective: Geomagnetic Storm Forecasts and the Power
Industry,” EOS Transactions of the American Geophysics Union,
Vol. 78, No. 4, January 28, 1997, pp. 37-45.
J.G. Kappenman, L.J. Zanetti, W.A. Radasky, “Geomagnetic Storms can
Threaten Electric Power Grid,” Earth in Space, American
Geophysics Union, Vol. 9, No. 7, pp. 9-11, March 1997.
J.G. Kappenman, W.A. Radasky, J.L. Gilbert, I.A. Erinmez, “Advanced
Geomagnetic Storm Forecasting: A Risk Management Tool for
Electric Power Operations,” IEEE Plasma Society Special Issue
on Space Plasmas, December 2000, Vol 28, #6, pp. 2114-2121.
J.G. Kappenman, “Geomagnetic Storm Forecasting Mitigates Power System
Impacts,” IEEE Power Engineering Review, November 1998, pp. 4-
7.
J.G. Kappenman, “Advanced Geomagnetic Storm Forecasting for the
Electric Power Industry,” American Geophysics Union Press Book
“Space Weather” Geophysical Monograph #125, July 2001.
J.G. Kappenman, Chapter 4.9–“ Geomagnetic Disturbances and Impacts
Upon Power System Operations,” The Electric Power Engineering
Handbook, CRC Press/IEEE Press, pp. 4-150-165, published 2001.
I.A. Erinmez, J.G. Kappenman, W.A. Radasky, “Management of the
Geomagnetically Induced Current Risks on the National Grid
Company’s Electric Power Transmission System,” Journal of
Atmospheric and Solar Terrestrial Physics (JASTP) Special
Addition for NATO Space Weather Hazards Conference June, 2000,
in press 2001.
L.J. Lanzerotti, L.V. Medford, C.G. MacLennan, J.S. Kraus, J.G.
Kappenman, W. Radasky, “Titans-Atlantic Geopotentials during
the July 2000 Solar Event and Geomagnetic Storm,” for
“BASTILLE FLARE ISSUE” of Solar Physics, Kluwer Academic
Press, release for Fall 2001.
J.G. Kappenman, “Advanced Geomagnetic Storm Forecasting for the
Electric Power Industry,” American Geophysics Union Press Book
“Space Weather” Geophysical Monograph #125, July 2001, pages
353-358.
J.G. Kappenman, Chapter 13–“An Introduction to Power Grid Impacts and
Vulnerabilities from Space Weather,” NATOASI Book on Space
Storms and Space Weather Hazards, edited by I.A. Daglis, Kluwer
Academic Publishers, NATO Science Series, Vol. 38, pg 335-361,
2001.
I.A. Erinmez, S. Majithia, C. Rogers, T. Yasuhiro, S. Ogawa, H. Swahn,
J.G. Kappenman, “Application of Modelling Techniques to Assess
Geomagnetically Induced Current Risks on the NGC Transmission
System,” CIGRE Paper 39-304, Session 2002.
W.A. Radasky, J.G. Kappenman, R. Pfeffer, “Nuclear and Space Weather
Effects on the Electric Power Infrastructure,” NBC Report,
Fall/Winter 2001, pp. 37-42.
J.G. Kappenman, Space Weather and the Vulnerability of Electric Power
Grids, in Effects of Space Weather on Technology
Infrastructure, edited by I.A. Daglis, Kluwer Acad., Norwell,
Mass., in press, 2003.
J.G. Kappenman, “SSC Events and the Associated GIC Risks to Ground-
Based Systems at Low and Mid-Latitude Locations,” AGU
International Journal of Space Weather, in press 2003.
J.G. Kappenman, “Electric Power Grids and Evolving Vulnerability to
Space Weather,” feature article for AGU International Journal
of Space Weather, in press 2003.
J.G. Kappenman, “Opinion: Systemic Failure on a Grand Scale–August
14, 2003,” signed opinion article for AGU International
Journal of Space Weather, in press 2003.

Biography for Henry P. (Hank) Krakowski

Vice President–Corporate Safety, Security & Quality Assurance
United Airlines

Named to this position in November 2001, Captain Krakowski is
responsible for corporate Safety, Security and Quality Assurance. These
responsibilities cover all flight, operational, computer and
maintenance functions, including emergency response. His organization
is based in Chicago and has both Safety, Security and QA personnel
worldwide.
Hank joined United as a pilot in 1978 and has served as Director of
Flight Crew Planning and most recently as Director–Flight Operations
Control. He was in charge of Flight Operations at United’s Operations
Control Center on September 11th 2001. In addition to his officer
duties Hank also flies the Boeing 737 out of O’Hare.
A native of Evanston, Illinois, Hank holds a Master’s degree in
Business & Management and a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering
from St. Louis University. Hank has served as chairman of
communications and national spokesman for the Air Line Pilots
Association.
Active in numerous aspects of aviation, he is also a rated Flight
Dispatcher and practicing Aircraft Mechanic. In addition to rebuilding
two aircraft, Hank has been an airshow pilot with the Chicago based
Lima Lima aerobatic demonstration flight team. He lives in Deerfield,
IL.

Biography for Robert A. Hedinger

Dr. Robert Hedinger, Executive Vice President at Loral Skynet,
U.S.A, is responsible for Sales, Marketing and Client Services. He
joined AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1978 as a Satellite Systems Engineer
responsible for Satellite System Design, Satellite Transmission
Planning, and International Technical Regulatory Matters. He led
marketing and sales for AT&T SKYNET Satellite Services from 1991 to
1993. He led Business Development efforts for AT&T and subsequently for
Loral SKYNET from 1993 through 2002. Since then he has been responsible
for Sales, Marketing, and Client Services. Dr. Hedinger participated in
ITU activities since 1980. He chaired the U.S. delegation to CCIR Study
Group 4 for three years and participated as a U.S. delegate to three
WRCs. He participated as Vice Chairman of U.S. Delegation to WARC
ORB’88.
Dr. Hedinger received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of
Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio in 1975.

Appendix 2:

———-

Additional Material for the Record

What Is Space Weather? Why Is It Important?

The Sun is a variable star. Its magnetic field varies on a time
scale from seconds to decades. The origins of solar variability are
still poorly understood, but it causes the Sun to produce vast
explosions (flares and coronal mass ejections) and streams of ionized
gas (the solar wind). The space environment, in which the entire Solar
System exists, is controlled and modulated by these outpourings from
the Sun. This variation in the space environment is called “space
weather.”
Fortunately, the Earth has a magnetic field and atmosphere that
partially protects us from the daily changes in geospace conditions.
However, some of these effects do make their way into the Earth system
and can damage our spacecraft and endanger the health and safety our
astronauts. Here on Earth, they can affect technologies vital to our
civilization such as degrading communications, disrupting electrical
power transmission, increasing corrosion rates in oil pipelines,
increasing the radiation doses received by passengers and crew on some
commercial airliners, and decreasing the accuracy of GPS.
The future of space exploration beyond the immediate Earth
environment (i.e., beyond the protection of the Earth’s natural
shields) is intimately linked to the necessity of understanding space
weather. If we are to send astronauts to Mars or set up a permanent
base on the Moon, for example, then understanding these phenomena and
being able to predict them will be vital to ensuring our explorers’
safety.

Our Needs for Space Weather Data and Forecasts

Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company has a major stake in space
weather. All of our space-related programs use space weather data in
the planning, design, and operation of new orbital systems. Radiation
dosage, communications quality, navigation and position measurement,
surveillance, and mission life are concerns related to space weather in
preparing reliable and successful space projects for the U.S.
government. One of many possible examples: our Astronautics group
(Denver, Colorado) uses SEC space weather forecasts to help scheduling
the launches of Atlas and Titan rockets.
Our Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, California, works on a
wide variety of space weather programs including building instruments
for solar monitoring from the NOAA GOES spacecraft and the NASA Living
With A Star (LWS) and Solar Terrestrial Probe programs. They research
space weather phenomena originating from the Sun and model their direct
effects in geospace. They have used the predictions from the NOAA SEC
since the launch of the Solar Maximum Mission in 1980 to help optimize
the scientific return from some of their solar missions.

Roles of Government, Academia and Industry in Space Weather

NSF, in collaboration with NOAA, DOD, NASA, and several other
agencies, produced a study identifying the urgent need for a
coordinated approach to space weather. This led to the National Space
Weather Initiative. A part of this program was designed to improve the
observations and research of space weather in the science community.
This effort was spearheaded by NASA and NSF; which defined the
outstanding theoretical and observational problems that need to be
addressed. This led to the LWS program at NASA and comprehensive
modeling projects at NSF.
Academia is important to the ongoing development of space weather
because much of the ground-breaking research goes on at universities.
While much of this research is of purely scientific interest, some of
it leads directly to models and visualization techniques that are
applicable to space weather forecasting. The NOAA SEC is responsible
for being familiar with these advances and how they might best be
applied to forecasting.
Because the NASA charter focuses on science rather than operational
monitoring of phenomena like space weather, the task of gathering long-
term space weather data fell to NOAA, hence the inclusion of space
weather instruments on NPOESS and GOES-R. NOAA also takes the
discoveries made by NASA and NSF research that are specifically
relevant to space weather forecasting and turns them into the
appropriate data products on which the space weather user community
depends.
The SEC has acted as the interface between the space weather
science and user communities. For example, they have organized a very
successful series of annual meetings, Space Weather Week, which bring
these different space weather communities (researchers, modelers,
commercial suppliers, and users) together to help understand each
other’s capabilities and requirements. Without this vital role of the
SEC, space weather forecasting would be many years behind where it is
today.
Industry provides the capability to build the instruments,
spacecraft, and ground systems for NASA research programs and uses that
experience to supply the necessary high-reliability monitoring systems
for NOAA. The aerospace industry is also one of the many users of
NOAA’s space weather products.
Other government agencies (e.g., DOD, FAA, and DOE) are major users
of NOAA space weather forecasts. They help define the observational
requirements and data products that they want from the SEC. There is a
marked rise in the number of companies whose business can be affected
by space weather; these include the increase in commercial usage of
GPS, cell phones, and the need for power grids to run nearer to
capacity limits. This upsurge in the need for space weather products
has resulted in a growing number of small businesses from all over the
United States that provide space weather products specifically tailored
to single-end-user needs. These companies rely entirely on the data and
forecasts from the SEC.

Future Applications of Space Weather

The continuity and fidelity of the current space weather data and
forecasting capabilities provided by NOAA SEC is vital. We should also
consider what is needed in the future. Our investment and reliance on
space technology are growing, and we need to respond to this by
increasing our capability to forecast the operational environment of
these ever more sophisticated and expensive space assets. To keep pace
with these advances and new priorities, we believe that the SEC needs
to grow steadily over the next few years.
Recently there has been increasing scientific interest in the
potential link between space weather effects and climate change. It has
been estimated that 30 to 50 percent of the recent climate change could
be attributable to changes in the Sun. If this link is demonstrated to
exist, as many scientists think it will, and the mechanisms are
understood so that the space weather input to our climate can be
modeled to accurately predict future climate change, then the solar and
geospace data, processed and archived by NOAA, will be of huge economic
importance to the Nation’s long-term planning of water and land usage.
Consequently, we cannot afford to lose or disperse the core of space
weather expertise currently resident at the SEC in Boulder, Colorado.

Conclusions

The stage of development of space weather at present is very
similar to that of meteorological forecasting more than 40 years ago.
The data are sparse and incomplete, and the forecasts are not as
accurate in the long-term as some of the users would like. The increase
in data acquisition capability represented by the new NPOESS and GOES-R
space weather instruments, plus the influx of new data from the current
GOES Solar X-ray Imager series, will result in a significant increase
in our capability to forecast space weather effects more accurately
over a longer period. To take full advantage of this upsurge in space
weather data and demand for more forecast products, we need a growing
capability at the NOAA SEC, not a reduced one.

Prepared Statement of Dr. W. Kent Tobiska
President and Chief Scientist
Space Environment Technologies
1676 Palisades Drive
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272-2111

The shorter-term variable impact of the Sun’s photons, solar wind
particles, and interplanetary magnetic field upon the Earth’s
environment that can adversely affect technological systems is
colloquially known as space weather. It includes, for example, the
effects of solar coronal mass ejections, solar flares and irradiances,
solar and galactic energetic particles, as well as the solar wind, all
of which affect Earth’s magnetospheric particles and fields,
geomagnetic and electrodynamical conditions, radiation belts, aurorae,
ionosphere, and the neutral thermosphere and mesosphere.
The U.S. activity to understand, then mitigate, space weather risks
is programmatically directed by the interagency National Space Weather
Program (NSWP) and summarized in its NSWP Implementation Plan [2000].
That document describes a goal to improve our understanding of the
physics underlying space weather and its effects upon terrestrial
systems. A major step toward achievement of that goal is the ongoing
development of operational space weather systems which link models and
data to provide a seamless energy-effect characterization from the Sun
to the Earth. The NOAA Space Environment Center is the key agency
providing the raw information necessary for inputs into these systems
and the continued support by NOAA SEC to space weather users is of
critical importance in our technology-based society.
In relation to space weather’s effects upon the ionosphere, there
are challenges to space- and ground-systems that result from electric
field disturbances, irregularities, and scintillation. Space and ground
operational systems that are affected by ionospheric space weather
include telecommunications, Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation,
and radar surveillance. As an example, solar coronal mass ejections
produce highly variable and energetic particles embedded in the solar
wind while large solar flares produce elevated fluxes of ultraviolet
(UV) and extreme ultraviolet (EUV) photons. Both sources can be a major
cause of terrestrial ionospheric perturbations at low- and high-
latitudes. They drive the ionosphere to unstable states resulting in
the emergence of irregularities and rapid total electron content (TEC)
changes.
Trans-ionospheric radio communications and GPS navigation systems
are particularly affected by these irregularities. The ionosphere’s
ability to reflect high frequency (HF) radio signals is affected and
conditions are created where HF radio propagation is not feasible when
signal amplitude and phase scintillations are degraded. For GPS
navigation systems users in perturbed ionospheric regions, the timing
of GPS signals becomes significantly and adversely degraded,
translating directly into location inaccuracy and even signal
unavailability.
Ionospheric perturbed conditions can be recognized and specified in
real-time or predicted through linkages of models and data streams such
as those provided by NOAA SEC. Linked systems must be based upon multi-
spectral observations of the Sun, solar wind measurements by satellites
between the Earth and Sun, as well as by measurements from radar and
GPS/TEC networks. Models of the solar wind, solar irradiances, the
neutral thermosphere, thermospheric winds, joule heating, particle
precipitation, substorms, the electric field, and the ionosphere
provide climatological estimates of non-measured present and predicted
parameters. Data provided by NOAA SEC are continuously used by these
models.
Space Environment Technologies, a company that provides advanced
space weather products and services for government and aerospace
customers, supports NOAA Space Environment Center in a common effort to
develop operational ionospheric forecast systems that will detect and
predict the conditions leading to dynamic ionospheric changes. Such
systems will provide global-to-local specifications of recent history,
current epoch, and 72-hour forecast ionospheric and neutral density
profiles, TEC, plasma drifts, neutral winds, and temperatures.
Geophysical changes will be captured and/or predicted (modeled) at
their relevant time scales using data assimilation techniques. Linked
physics-based and empirical models that will provide thermospheric,
solar, electric field, particle, and magnetic field parameters will
enable reliable forecasts and will mitigate risks from space weather to
our technological systems.

Comments of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
EPRI is a non-profit corporation formed by U.S. electric utilities
in 1972 as the Electric Power Research Institute to manage a national,
public/private collaborative research program on behalf of EPRI
members, their customers, and society. Today, EPRI has over 1,000
members consisting of government-owned utilities (both federal and non-
federal), rural electric cooperative associations, investor-owned
utilities, Independent and Affiliated Transmissions Companies (ITC and
ATC), Independent System Operators (ISOs), and Regional Transmission
Operators (RTOs), foreign (international) utilities, independent power
producers, and governmental agencies engaged in funding electricity-
related research and development.
EPRI has gained a worldwide reputation for excellence and
credibility in scientific research and technology development related
to electricity. As a tax-exempt scientific organization under Internal
Revenue Code Section 501 (c) (3), EPRI makes its research results
available through its technology transfer program, including
publication of reports, licensing of intellectual property, and
sponsoring seminars and conferences.

INTRODUCTION

Moderate and local disturbances in the power grid as a result of
solar storms were seen from time to time, but was not fully understood
that the possible damage could be serious until the storm of March 31,
1989. As a result of this storm, the Province of Quebec suffered a
complete blackout and major equipment damage occurred in the northern
United States. Since that event, the industry has been aware of the
potential harm and has become more careful about noting Space
Environment Center (SEC) alerts and responding to them.
The Northeast Blackout of August 14, 2003 was a reminder that the
power grid is dynamic and that the necessary operational balance must
be maintained with some care. Solar storms represent another disturbing
influence which can unsettle the system if we are not careful. The
alerts of the Space Environment Center provide critical information
used by many utilities to gauge how to plan their operations during
times of expected stress.
How likely is it that we will see a repeat storm of severity equal
to that of March 13, 1989? We have since experienced a half of a
sunspot cycle and not seen a comparable storm impact the earth. On the
other hand there are compelling reasons to expect that our system is
becoming more susceptible, rather than less, to the same disturbance.
Several trends combine to this so:

Deregulation has increased the purchase of power from more
remote locations and thereby increased the long distance flows
of power over the grid. Longer lines are more vulnerable to
disruption from solar storms.

The relative loading of lines and transformers compared with
their ratings have increased as load has grown faster than new
installations. Equipment used near its limits of temperature
and magnetic flux can be more easily pushed into failure from
solar storms.

The use of microprocessors in electric energy consuming
devices and appliances is rising dramatically. As a result, US
business and industry is increasingly demanding more reliable,
digital quality electrical supply. Microprocessor-based devices
are more prone to disturbance and to misinterpretation of noisy
signals that are likely to result from the effects of solar
storms on the power grid.

Against the unknown probability of a recurrence (admittedly not a
high probability) there must be balanced the projected cost of a
widespread outage. This cost could be very high indeed. In the United
States, the region of highest risk runs form the Canadian border down
to the middle of the country. Because the Magnetic North Pole is
displaced somewhat towards the eastern U.S., the region of highest risk
does not extend as far south into California as it does into Virginia.
By coincidence, the recent Mid-West/Northeast Blackout of August 14 and
15, 2003 can serve as a reasonable model of what might happen from the
recurrence of a high magnitude solar storm in the eastern U.S.
We value the alerts issued by the Center to our industry. Many
utilities curtail elective maintenance operations and take steps to
distribute their generation more evenly on the basis of these alerts.
Several utilities have combined under the leadership of EPRI to pool
readings of solar induced currents in real time so we can better assess
the current status of any ongoing event.
We value the studies the Center makes of the solar wind and the
evidence and data it is accumulating that will one day give us a much
better understanding of phenomena we only observe today. It would be of
great value if one day the Center was able to predict further into the
future and with more certainty what to expect from the solar flows.
We value the studies of solar phenomena, the drivers of all the
effects we experience. Understanding here may be further away, but
could be even more valuable for predicting releases many days into the
future.
It is not clear that any other public or private organizations have
the budget or interest to pursue such long-term matters. The solar
phenomena influence industries as diverse as communications, oil and
gas pipelines and the electric power industry. The U.S. military has an
interest in the matter of solar disturbances, which can disrupt GPD
systems and indirectly impact them through loss of electric power.

Prepared Statement of Timothy L. Killeen
Director
National Center for Atmospheric Research

I wish to thank Chairman Ehlers, Ranking Member Udall, and Members
of the Subcommittee on Environment, Technology and Standards for
holding the October 30 Subcommittee hearing, What Is Space Weather and
Who Should Forecast It? Space Weather is a relatively new, but critical
area of scientific research and operations that may not be understood
or appreciated by many in a manner that captures the field’s importance
to the Nation’s security and technological preeminence in the world.
You are doing the country a great service by examining the state of the
science and recent questions that have been raised by Congress about
who should forecast space weather and provide warnings about threats
from solar storms. I write this not only from my position as director
of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), but as
principal investigator of an instrument on the, (TIMED) satellite. A
major goal of TIMED is to improve our ability to predict and understand
Space Weather.
I would like to address the work and positioning of the Space
Environment Center (SEC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), the main topics of the October 30 hearing. I
have experience working with the scientists of SEC and was quite
concerned to see the FY 2004 marks and language in both the House and
Senate NOAA bills regarding the Center. The President’s request for SEC
provided it with a $3 million increase over FY 2003. As I am sure you
are well aware, the House mark eliminated this increase, keeping the
account flat. Worse, the Senate zeroed SEC out and included the
following language in the committee report: The “Atmospheric” in NOAA
does not extend to the astral. Absolutely no funds are provided for
solar observation. Such activities are rightly the bailiwick of the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Air Force.
The atmospheric sciences community is fully aware of the
requirement in both the House and Senate bills to review NOAA research
operations. Such a review will, I believe, strengthen those operations
and provide long-term benefits to the country. However, the language of
the Senate bill in particular seems to criticize research activities
within NOAA across the board and single out SEC as an inappropriate
NOAA function. This approach seems to me likely to be of significant
harm to the Nation’s scientific endeavors.
SEC has made many extraordinary basic and applied research
contributions that have been described in detail by SEC Director
Hildner in his testimony. These include the real-time monitoring and
forecasting of solar events such as radiation storms that can damage
satellites and electrical grids. The Center provides forecasts and
real-time data that enable the prediction of solar effects on the
Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere, and upper atmosphere. These effects
include enhancements of the radiation belts, ionospheric interference
with communication and navigation systems, and changes in the orbits of
satellites. SEC is the undisputed world leader in space weather
forecasting, and its services are of significant value to commercial,
military, and research endeavors conducted in near-Earth space.
In cooperation with the U.S. Air Force, SEC operates the Space
Weather Operations Center, which serves as the national early warning
center for space disturbances that can affect people and equipment
working in the space environment. Research satellites such as the
Hubble Space Telescope as well as communications and surveillance
satellites are protected by the Center’s activities, as are astronauts
on the Space Station. Additional SEC activities include the prediction
of solar influences on the Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere and
thermosphere. SEC predicts energetic particle fluxes in the Earth’s
ring current of geomagnetically trapped ions and electrons, ionospheric
disturbances and their effect on radio communication, and thermospheric
densities that affect satellite drag. The skill and knowledge to be
able to provide these assessments are not easy to come by, taking years
of experience to develop. Also taking much skill and experience to
develop are effective ways in which to provide end users with
information needed for operational purposes. SEC does an excellent job
on both fronts.
The geophysical indices SEC provides are used by a wide number of
scientific researchers, students, postdoctoral students, and the
general public. They are employed in models of the upper atmosphere,
ionosphere, and magnetosphere, and are important for operational
studies. Disrupting SEC at this time would have a negative impact on
studies involved with NSF-sponsored programs such as Coupling,
Energetics and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions (CEDAR), Geospace
Environment Modeling (GEM), and Solar, Heliospheric, and INterplanetary
Environment (SHINE), as well as satellite studies of NASA and the DOD.
Space weather basic and applied research at SEC provides critical
support to the operational forecasting and data services. SEC maintains
active collaborations with the National Center for Atmospheric
Research, the University of Colorado, Boston University, and many other
institutions engaged in the extensive and challenging endeavor of
obtaining a full and detailed physical understanding of the processes
that drive solar activity, solar particle and electromagnetic
radiation, changes in the solar wind and magnetic field, and the
response of the magnetosphere-ionosphere-thermosphere system to those
changes. In particular, SEC is a national leader in developing
numerical models of the solar wind and the ionosphere, and data
assimilation techniques applied to the upper atmosphere. Research at
SEC is of very high quality and, I believe, is an irreplaceable
component of current multi-institutional projects to create the next
generation of coupled Sun-to-Earth numerical modeling systems for space
weather forecasting.
As stated above, language in the Senate budget for FY04 implies
that SEC functions should be transferred to NASA or to the Department
of Defense (DOD). I have close working knowledge of the programs of
NASA and believe that it is an agency that is not equipped to provide
support for continuous (“247”) data and forecast services, having
other priorities more critical to its core mission. Therefore, I do not
believe that NASA would provide an appropriate home for SEC operational
activities in the near-term. DOD could conceivably manage the
operational arm, but would not be an appropriate home for the research
activities conducted at SEC. In addition, DOD’s primary responsibility
is military defense of the Nation. In times of war or other military
emergency, it is conceivable that DOD operations would be classified
and would pertain only to military matters. In this situation, response
to civilian concerns relating to solar geomagnetic and radiation storms
would likely be of lower priority.
I am sure that you are aware of the recently released National
Research Council (NRC) decadal study on research strategy in solar and
space physics titled, The Sun to the Earth–and Beyond. In this
document, the eminent members of eight Blue Ribbon panels, committees,
and boards strongly endorse SEC and recommend throughout that NOAA,
NASA, DOD, and the National Science Foundation collaborate to lead the
military and civilian effort to continue and to expand solar and space
research, research applications, the acquisition of real-time data, and
technology development.
A recommendation on page 14 of the NRC report states that “NOAA
should assume responsibility for the continuance of space-based
measurement such as solar wind data. . .” This is a recommendation by
numerous experts in the field. Absolutely nowhere in this document is
there a recommendation that NOAA extricate itself from solar and space
weather work because it is inappropriate to its mission. To the
contrary, recommendations throughout elucidate the critical role that
NOAA plays among the four involved agencies.
Though constrained by limited budgets SEC has done excellent work
within NOAA and I believe it makes sense for it to continue to reside
there. NOAA’s mission reads in part, “To understand and predict
changes in the Earth’s environment. . .to meet our nation’s economic,
social, and environmental needs.” The Sun makes life on Earth possible
and causes tremendous environmental changes. To better understand the
Sun’s behavior is to better understand Earth’s environment. To
understand the threats of solar geomagnetic and radiation storms and
warn of their possible impacts contributes to meeting our nation’s
economic, social, and environmental needs. In my opinion, SEC’s work is
an integral part of the NOAA mission.
I understand that NOAA leadership is considering the transfer of
SEC (should it survive the FY 2004 Appropriations process) from the
Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) to the National
Weather Service (NWS). Transfer of SEC to NWS could strengthen its
operational mandate, and provide a programmatic environment appropriate
to its national mission. I would have some concern, though, that the
critical, basic research side of the Center could become undervalued
within the overwhelmingly operational environment of NWS. The two sides
of SEC are symbiotic and not readily separated without seriously
compromising the forecasting side. As has been stated before,
operations are only as strong as the research and research applications
behind them. To diminish one is to weaken or cause stagnation in the
other. I would like to urge the Committee to seek assurances from NOAA
leadership that, if SEC is transferred from OAR to NWS, the research
side of the laboratory will receive continued support within NWS, or
will be maintained elsewhere within NOAH with a close working
relationship to the operational side.
In closing, I would like to note that NOAA/SEC is the undisputed
world leader in space weather forecasting. SEC has an effective balance
of research and operational staff in the area of solar-terrestrial
physics and an ideal scientific culture for the purpose of forecasting.
To create such a balance and culture at any other U.S. institution
would be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive.
SEC could, in principle, be transferred to another agency, but that
would require unnecessary expenditures, disruptions, and a short-term
(if not long-term) downgrading in the quality of forecasting. Space
weather forecasting is of immense importance to this technologically
advanced nation; it should be carried out at NOAA, the culture of which
supports forecasting with a strong scientific basis.
Mr. Chairman, in your leadership role with the Committee, and as a
fellow physicist, I hope you will appreciate the value to the country
of protecting SEC’s research and operational role within NOAA, the
importance of which was illustrated well during the very recent solar
storms that erupted in the Earth’s direction. I thank you and Mr. Udall
for the opportunity to submit this written testimony and I appreciate
your attention to this important matter.

Prepared Statement of Bruce Mahone

Space Weather Funding in Jeopardy

As a result of a Washington funding dispute, the Space Environment
Center (SEC) in Boulder, Colorado, might have to close its doors in the
coming months.
Funding for the Center has been reduced by the U.S. House of
Representatives and cut entirely by the Senate. This could have a
devastating impact on the U.S. airline industry, U.S. astronauts, the
U.S. power distribution grid, worldwide navigation of all types, and
U.S. military exercises.
The SEC is jointly operated by the Commerce Department’s National
Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air
Force.
Although other government entities collect data on space weather,
no other facility serves as a focal point for aggregating and
disseminating the full range of space weather information currently
available. And no other office serves such a broad range of customers
with its data–NASA, FAA, NOAA, DOD, and the private sector.
If the type of data provided by SEC were no longer available
nationwide, some or all of the following effects could be expected:

Harmful radiation to airline passengers. Commercial airlines and high-
altitude business jets flying polar routes during intense solar flares
are subject to radiation doses as injurious to humans as the low-level
radiation from a nuclear blast. This is the equivalent of 100 chest x-
rays and would lead to increased cancer rates among crew and
passengers. Without space weather information, aircraft operators do
not know when to change direction to slower, yet safer non-polar
routes.

Deadly radiation to astronauts. Astronauts venturing outside the Space
Shuttle or International Space Station during intense solar activity
are subject to dangerously high levels of radiation.

Loss of electrical power grids. For economic reasons, many portions of
our nation’s power grid regularly operate at peak capacity. If faced
with a voltage spike induced by a magnetic storm, many nodes on the
grid cannot handle the surge and would fail. When alerted that a
magnetic storm is coming, however, grid operators can reduce the amount
of electricity flowing through the grid, allowing “space” for the
coming voltage spike and thus avoid system failure.

Critical navigational errors. Solar events and magnetic storms can
interrupt or degrade navigation signals from Long Range Navigation
(LORAN) systems and Global. Positioning Systems (GPS). This can lead to
navigation system failures or, even worse, false position readings.
Navigators notified of such intense space weather can switch to backup
navigation systems, thus avoiding misdirected vehicles and potential
crashes.

Military effects. Electromagnetic signals caused by solar emissions
influence high frequency communications, satellite ultra-high frequency
communications, and GPS navigation signals. They also increase
interference or false returns to sunward and/or poleward looking
radars. Those who track satellites and other objects in orbit can
potentially lose their targets because of these changes in the
atmosphere caused by space weather.

Some in Congress are concerned that NOAA should stick to its core
mission of tracking weather within Earth’s atmosphere and not concern
itself with weather patterns in space. Space weather, however, does
ultimately enter Earth’s atmosphere and (as noted above) affects
systems on the ground.
Others are concerned that SEC funding comes from a portion of
NOAA’s budget designated for scientific research rather than for
operational forecasting. This is not, however, inconsistent with SEC’s
work. Forecasting space weather and using the forecasts in real time is
still in its infancy. It is a field that has proved very helpful in
numerous ways, but one that is still in need of extensive research.
The view of the aerospace industry is that the Space Environment
Center is not “broken” so there is no reason to “fix” it by moving
its function to NASA, DOD, or another agency. And curtailing the
services provided by SEC is not an option, particularly considering the
hazardous threat environment in which we find ourselves. Keeping our
nation safe, secure, and economically viable requires every bit of
critical information available. And a major component of that
information is space weather.
AIA is taking an active role with its Space Council and legislative
staff to ensure that SEC funding is restored. The amount of funding the
office requires (roughly $5-8 million per year) is very modest compared
to the benefits received from the products it offers for the good of
our nation.

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