New Satellite Will Provide Weather Forecasts — On The Sun

Worried about solar winds and space weather interfering with global cell phone reception, possibly plunging the world into a new Dark Ages? Apparently, so is NASA: they've designed a satellite for the sole purpose of monitoring space weather.

Fueling and testing just began last week for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The satellite is now in Florida preparing for a launch in November.

The sun's activity increases and decreases in an 11 year cycle. The peak of this next cycle is in May of 2013, and considering our world's increasing reliance on GPS since the previous maximum in 2002, knowing how to deal with damaging solar winds has become a priority.

The Solar Dynamics Observatory plans to analyze how the sun works and develop models to predict solar weather patterns. I'm glad NASA is working to prevent a global telecommunications breakdown. As much as people love the simple life, they probably love their iPhones more.

Solar Sentry Prepared for Launch [via Discovery News]

Further reading: The Sun Is Weaker Than It's Been In 80 Years, Apparently