I think the civilized world (anyone with Internet/TV) learned this week that space weather exists and the Sun does impact our daily lives. This awareness was due to a large solar flare and resulting coronal mass ejection (see my blogs this past week) that generated the most powerful solar radiation storm since 2005.
Our modern infrastructure - GPS, communications, satellites, power grid, and astronauts can all be effected by space weather. The Sun is showing signs of solar maximum activity with this week's events, and we have at least another 20 months to predicted maximum.
The good news is that we have a fleet of new spacecraft that gives us far better technical capability AND 24x7 and 360 degree coverage. SDO, SOHO and STEREO A and B now monitor the Sun simultaneously with multiple instruments and the latter two can even be the far side of the Sun so we can see what is coming.
All of this technical capability/data needs methods to interpret and thereby forecast what the acquired data means to our space weather. There is good news here as well - NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has the Space Weather Laboratory (SWL) working to develop the methods necessary to predict space weather.
From NASA GSFC's press release: "
Sky Guy in VA