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Space Weather Week 2005
Space Weather Week 2005 was held in Broomfield, CO, on April 5-8. The conference was extremely well received by the 260 attendees from industry, academia and government agencies. The meeting was also enormously beneficial to the Space Environment Center, who hosted the conference, along with co-sponsors -- Air Force
Research Lab, National Science Foundation, and NASA Earth-Sun Systems Division. Ernie Hildner, Director of Space Environment Center, claimed that "It was the best Space Weather Week yet, even when each conference seems like it can't get much better!" Attendees agreed, and expressed their delight with the wealth of space weather information presented in the more than 100 oral and poster presentations.
The Week's activities actually began on Sunday, April 3, with a daylong meeting of the International Space Environment Services (ISES). Representatives from most of the eleven Regional Warning Centers from around the world attended. Recent accomplishments were presented by each RWC. The group also discussed timing for the ISES Solar Cycle 24 prediction, and what role ISES will play in the 2007 International Heliospheric Year.
The Airline Meeting, as a follow-up to last year's workshop, was held Monday morning with members of the International Committee on Space Weather Impact on Airline Services (ICSWIAS) and many NOAA staff members and other interested individuals. They discussed the possibility of developing policies regarding radiation hazards to crew and passengers. Some of the attendees at this meeting also presented at the Space Weather Week session on Airlines Tuesday morning. Mike Stills, of United Airlines, said, "The most important hazard associated with polar flying is space weather." Giving a detailed description of the impact of the 5-day January 2005 solar storms, he estimated the loss to United for polar flights to be over $1 million.
The Tutorial, held on Monday afternoon before the conference began, was well attended with over 120 people benefiting from the introduction to space weather and the solar-terrestrial environment. Attendees enjoyed and learned from seven different SEC presentations.
Space Weather Week proper got underway on Tuesday morning and presentations ran the gamut from power grid problems, to space weather's impact on conventional aviation, to space weather support issues for NASA's space exploration initiative. NASA's Space Radiation Analysis Group discussed the potentially dangerous electron belt enhancements in 2004 that resulted in radiation alerts for the International Space Station crew. Satellite company representatives discussed satellite performance during hazardous space weather events. A first for this annual conference was the participation of FAA's Commercial Space Transportation group.
Space weather's role in NASA's new space exploration initiative drew much attention. Cary Zeitlin, the PI for the Mars Radiation Environment Experiment (MARIE) on the Mars Odyssey, discussed radiation measurements in the Mars environment. He also shared details on the early demise of MARIE, due ironically, to an unrecoverable anomaly during the "Halloween Storms". Prof. Larry Townsend of the University of Tennessee discussed the dangers of radiation to deep space travelers, and introduced details of the planned Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), scheduled for launch in 2008. The LRO will have the "Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation" (CRaTER) instrument on board.
We also heard an interesting talk about the considerable damage to the South African power grid (ESKOM) during the intense Halloween Storms of 2003. The latest space weather modeling efforts were discussed in detail, and an important discussion occurred on a framework for integrating all these models for a complete sun-to-sea understanding of the environment.
The quality of much of today's communication and navigation systems depends heavily on the state of the Ionosphere. Specific impacts to GPS systems due to ionospheric storms were presented, followed by talks on new developments in modeling these ionospheric disturbances.
The space weather impact on climate and weather was also highlighted during this space weather week. The influences of solar radiation storms on ozone, space weather effects on tropospheric weather, and solar forcing of climate, were just some of the talks in this session.
Poster sessions ran all three days and drew a great deal of interest. They will likely be the subject of intense interest in the coming year. An evening reception on Wednesday was a time for casual interaction spiced up with a wonderful presentation about the rings of Saturn from the Cassini-Huygens probe, given by the Larry Esposito, the Principal Investigator for the Cassini Ultra-Violet Imaging Spectrograph. The conference also accommodated a meeting with vendors of space weather services to meet together and with NOAA staff, as they have every year. Many good reflections on the progress made and the desires for the future were aired and considered for action this year.
The presentation graphics are being made available at the SEC Website and as CDs for those who want them.