“Space weather has the potential to simultaneously affect and disrupt health and safety across entire continents. Successfully preparing for space weather events is an all-of-nation endeavor that requires partnerships across governments, emergency managers, academia, the media, the insurance industry, non-profits, and the private sector,” was how the Executive Order (EO) recently signed by President Barack Obama read.
The EO specifically outlines the coordination of efforts to deal with and recover from space weather disturbances, which could destroy systems and infrastructure on which society has come to heavily depend.
“Extreme space weather events -- those that could significantly degrade critical infrastructure -- could disable large portions of the electrical power grid, resulting in cascading failures that would affect key services such as water supply, healthcare, and transportation,” the order further read.
These events include solar storms and violent coronal mass ejections, which could disrupt the Earth’s electromagnetic field and cause damage amounting to trillions of dollars.
To deal with these events, the order assigns to the Federal Government the following tasks:
- Predict and detect space weather events
- Develop plans and programs needed to alert the public and private sectors to facilitate pro-active initiatives during a space weather event
- Reduce risks to critical infrastructure
- Respond to and recover from the effects of space weather