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Published March 31, 2022 | Version v1
Journal article Open

The Socioeconomic Impacts of the Upper Atmosphere Effects on LEO Satellites, Communication and Navigation Systems


The near-Earth space environment undergoes daily changes driven by variable conditions in the Sun. Explosive eruptions of energy from the Sun causing minor solar storms on Earth are relatively common and of little consequence. On the contrary, rarely occurring superstorms generate physical changes in the Earth’s upper atmosphere detrimental to satellites, signals from global navigation systems, and radio systems.  
While these events’ physics and engineering repercussions have been studied extensively, this is not the case for the related socioeconomic ramifications, despite our growing dependence on these technologies. Therefore, the report identifies the infrastructures vulnerable to the upper atmosphere effects and quantifies their impacts on LEO satellites, systems offering PNT services, and radio systems through a systematic literature review.  
In summary, we find that the costs associated with the risks posed to critical space-borne and ground-based technologies by upper atmospheric events are high, comparable to those of terrestrial hazards like tsunamis, earthquakes, or floods. Nevertheless, the quantification of the socioeconomic impacts is not yet mature, partly because of the lack of important modeling information and modern society’s lack of experience with extremely large events. Nonetheless, governments, asset owners, and business managers need advances in this area to mitigate the risks posed by upper atmosphere space weather.



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