Canada: The Canadian Space Agency launched a small hybrid satellite called CASSIOPE (Cascade SmallSat and Ionospheric Polar Explorer) last week. The satellite will study the effects of solar storms on radio communications, satellite navigation and other ground-based technologies.
When plasma and particles from the sun enter the upper atmosphere, they usually cause the stunning northern lights, but they also affect things such as hydroelectricity systems and GPS users. “The data collected by CASSIOPE during its two-year mission should make it a lot easier to predict the impact of solar storms on Earth. The biggest winners from our sets of data will be the GPS industry,” said Greg Enno of the University of Calgary. The satellite has been developed by SpaceX, a commercial space company. It was launched from Vandenberg in California on board a Falcon 9 rocket.