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NASA Selects Space Weather Centers for Excellence

NASA has selected three Space Weather Centers of Excellence (SWxC) and is partnering with the Department of Commerce (DoC) on the joint selection of a fourth proposal. The SWxC program element supports multi-institution collaboration to address grand challenge goals of space weather that require more than individual investigators or small teams. The SWxC program element takes advantage of lessons learned from ongoing and past science centers and promotes synergistic, coordinated efforts to transform space weather capabilities and preparedness.

The following proposals, principal investigators, and institutions were selected:

Space Weather Research and Technology Applications (SPARTA) Center of Excellence

  • The SPARTA Center’s vision is to develop a forecast system that will better specify and forecast ionospheric irregularities and associated radio wave scintillation, or rapid wave fluctuations. This system will supplement a gap in scientific understanding and help address the challenges of this critical space weather impact.
  • Principal Investigator: Keith Groves, Boston College

Space Weather Operational Readiness Development (SWORD) Center

  • The SWORD Center’s mission is to conduct research that will improve forecasts and nowcasts of the space environment of the Moon’s orbit and the area between the Earth and Moon. This will help predict geomagnetic storm impacts to airline and orbital space operations.
  • Principal Investigator: Thomas Berger, University of Colorado, Boulder

CLEAR: Center for All-Clear SEP Forecast

  • The CLEAR Center will build a prediction framework for solar energetic particles that provides timely and accurate predictions of the space radiation environment. These advances will help protect astronauts during crucial endeavors like the first lunar landing of the Artemis Mission.
  • Principal Investigator: Lulu Zhao, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Joint Selection

Center of Excellence for Advanced Forecasting of Drag for Enhanced, Sustainable, and Conscientious Space Operations

  • This center proposal was jointly selected with the Department of Commerce because of its near-term impact and strong alignment with the DoC’s Traffic Coordination System for Space. The center will address forecasting of orbital drag, which is crucial for avoiding collisions and predicting when satellites will reenter Earth’s atmosphere.
  • Principal Investigator: Piyush Mehta, University of West Virginia, Morgantown

By Julia Zumalt
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.