Did you know that NOAA's satellites monitor more than just weather on Earth? Our satellites also help forecasters at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) keep a close eye on the sun and Earth's space environment! In today's modern world, space weather is no joke and can have significant impacts to our daily lives.
Earlier today (December 7, 2016), potential minor geomagnetic storm activity lead the SWPC to issue a "G1 Watch" for December 7-9, 2016. Similar to the National Weather Service's weather watches and warnings, the G1 Watch serves as a notice of potential space weather impacts. During a G1 space weather event, the lowest on the scale, weak power grids may experience fluctuations, spacecraft operations may be slightly effected, and an aurora may be visible in the higher latitudes (i.e. Maine and Michigan.) You can see the full space weather scale and potential impacts here.
NOAA's DSCOVR satellite maintains the nation's real-time solar wind and space weather monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of NOAA's space weather warnings and forecasts. The satellite gives SWPC forecasters higher-quality measurements of solar wind conditions, improving their ability to monitor and warn of severe and potentially dangerous space weather events.
NOAA's GOES satellites also help monitor space weather by keeping an eye on the sun, allowing forecasters to determine the location and direction of solar eruptions. Once the storm enters the area around Earth, they use instruments aboard on board to monitor the geomagnetic storm's interaction with Earth's magnetic field and space environment.