U.N. committee to discuss space weather

Feb. 14, 2013 at 7:47 PM
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VIENNA, Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The U.N. Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space say it is adding a new agenda item for discussions this year: space weather and its impact on Earth.

Space weather joins issues such as space debris, near-Earth asteroids, space-based disaster management and global navigation as the committee prepares for its annual meeting in Vienna, NASA reported Wednesday.

"This is a significant development," Lika Guhathakurta of NASA Headquarters in Washington said. "By adding space weather to the regular agenda of the COPUOS Science and Technical Subcommittee, the United National is recognizing solar activity as a concern on par with orbital debris and close-approaching asteroids."

Space weather originated with the sun and can include radiation storms, the solar wind, flares and coronal mass ejections.

Such space weather can have an impact on Earth, Guhathakurta said.

"Strong solar storms can knock out power, disable satellites, and scramble GPS," she said. "It's a global problem made worse by increasing worldwide reliance on sensitive electronic technologies."

The committee's adding of space weather to its agenda underscores its global importance, U.N. officials said.

"Space weather is a significant natural hazard that requires global preparedness," Hans Haubold of the U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs said. "This new agenda item links space science and space technology for the benefit of all humankind."

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