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The National Science Foundation, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Boeing And Iridium Successfully Demonstrate Space Weather Observation

LAUREL, Md., Aug. 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), with help from The Boeing Company (NYSE: BA) and Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq: IRDM), has successfully implemented a new space-based system to monitor Earth's space environment. Known as the Active Magnetosphere and Planetary Electrodynamics Response Experiment (AMPERE), the system provides real-time magnetic field measurements using commercial satellites as part of a new observation network to forecast weather in space. This is the first step in developing a system that enables 24-hour tracking of Earth's response to supersonic blasts of plasma ejected from the sun at collection rates fast enough to one day enable forecasters to predict space weather effects.

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(Photo:   http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100818/MM48643)

(Photo:   http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100818/MM48643)

"This milestone brings us one step closer to accurate space weather forecasts around the Earth," said APL's Dr. Brian J. Anderson, principal investigator and the scientist who spearheads the program. "Solar storms can disrupt satellite service and damage telecommunications networks, cause power grid blackouts and even endanger high-altitude aircraft. The next wave of solar storms will occur over the next three to five years and recent solar activity is just the beginning of a long, stormy space weather 'season.' The timing for AMPERE is just right because we need this system both to help us understand how solar storms disturb the space environment and to develop reliable monitoring and forecasts of major space weather storms."

The Boeing engineering team and scientists at APL have proven that the program yields continuous, real-time measurements of the magnetic field over the entire Earth simultaneously with up to 100 times greater sampling density than previously possible.

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