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April 26, 2018

Ranking Member Bera’s Opening Statement for Space Weather Hearing

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittees on Environment and Space are holding a joint Committee hearing titled, “Surveying the Space Weather Landscape.”

Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Space, Rep. Ami Bera’s (D-CA), opening statement for the record is below.

Good morning and welcome to our witnesses.  I look forward to your testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing on “Surveying the Space Weather Landscape”. 

Severe space weather events pose significant threats to our national security, economy and society. Space weather can affect everything from electric power systems, satellite, aircraft, and spacecraft operations (including human spaceflight operations); and other ground and space-based infrastructure.  

NASA’s research and observations in solar and space physics has been instrumental in achieving our current capabilities for space weather monitoring and prediction. 

The Advanced Composition Explorer and the joint European Space Agency-NASA mission, both launched over 20 years ago, along with other NASA spacecraft such as STEREO and the Solar Dynamics Observatory, provide critical information in forecasting solar eruptions and their movement through the heliosphere. 

That said, it’s important to understand that we are only at the early stages of our ability to predict and forecast space weather. Improving our current capabilities will require investments in basic research, additional observations, models, and the ability to transition models into operational use.

The National Academies 2012 Heliophysics decadal survey stated, “Achievement of critical continuity of key space environment parameters, their utilization in advanced models, and application to operations constitute a major endeavor that will require unprecedented cooperation among agencies in the areas in which each has specific expertise and unique capabilities.”

To that end, Mr. Chairman, the National Space Weather Strategy and Space Weather Action Plan provide goals for federal agencies to organize our research and operational efforts on space weather and responses to extreme space weather events.

The Senate-passed bill and the companion House bill introduced by Mr. Perlmutter would ensure continued interagency coordination and encourage increased involvement with international, academic, and commercial sectors. 

Mr. Chairman, the nation’s efforts to deal with space weather demonstrate the ways in which our investments in basic research and NASA benefit our society. In the case of space weather, these investments are integral in ensuring the safety and operations of our critical infrastructure on the ground and in space. 

I look forward to hearing from our witnesses on what is needed to advance our nation’s understanding and our ability to monitor, predict, and forecast space weather. 

Thank you and I yield back.