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Space Meteorologist


Space meteorology is the study of space weather, which results from systems and events that occur in space. As described on NASA's Web site, "close to Earth, such space weather can interfere with satellite electronics, communications and GPS signals, and even—when extreme—utility grids on Earth."

The observational science of meteorology is the study of the atmosphere, weather, and climate. The philosopher Aristotle is considered to be the father of meteorology, writing the first atmospheric study around 340 B.C. Meteorological instruments date back to the 16th and 17th centuries, with the invention of the thermometer by Galileo, and later the invention of the barometer by Evangelista Torricelli. In the centuries that followed, scientists studied atmospheric conditions, and invented devices to measure atmospheric conditions such as humidity and wind speed.

Meteorological organizations were founded in the 19th century to help standardize the information that countries shared with each other. For example, the International Meteorological Congress, first held in 1873 in Vienna, Austria, led to the founding of the International Meteorological Association. The World Meteorological Organization, which was founded in 1950 as a specialized agency of the United Nations, stemmed from the International Meteorological Association.

It was after World War I that the upper atmosphere was observed and studied from balloons and airplanes. Government financing for meteorology development began during World War II, when it was made clear that the atmosphere played an important role in effectiveness of new weapons. Weather forecasters also contributed to the war effort by providing forecasts to help military leaders schedule air bombing and reconnaissance missions.

Space research and exploration started to ramp up in the 1950s. In the U.S., the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was founded in 1958, as a civilian agency that focused on developing and advancing space science for peaceful purposes.

Today, space meteorologists and related professionals work for such groups as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center, which provides space weather forecasts for events that may affect Earth. Advanced equipment and technology enables space meteorologists to take more accurate measurements and provide more accurate forecasts than in the past. They use satellites, radar, and supercomputers, which have high-performance systems, to gather and analyze space weather data.