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In major cooperation between China and Russia, the two countries inaugurated a joint space weather centre in Beijing “to enhance meteorological services for international civil aviation,” China Meteorological Administration (CMA) said.

Built and operated by CMA, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the Russian Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring, the centre is the first in China and fourth in the world to get approval from the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

“Building a comprehensive system and mechanism for the centre can realize real-time monitoring of global space weather and warn of disastrous space weather. By cooperating with Russia, China will help space weather aviation services,” CGTN quoted Yu Rucong, deputy director of the CMA.

Space weather is relevant to satellite operations, aviation safety and ground pipe networks, said the CMA. Space weather is triggered by solar eruptions from the Sun that hurtles dangerous particles travelling at staggering speed toward the planet. These storms have the capability of damaging assets in space, including satellites, stations and astronauts.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), strong solar storms can cause fluctuations of electrical currents in space and energise electrons and protons trapped in Earth’s varying magnetic field. These disturbances can cause problems with radio communications, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), power grids, and satellites.

The new centre is also aimed at increasing China’s international influence in space weather aviation services, the CMA added. It comes as China has been developing its space programmes, having this year launched a crewed mission to build a space station.

The new cooperation comes on the heels of Beijing and Moscow joining hands for a lunar research station on the Moon. According to a roadmap released earlier this year, the stations will first operate autonomously before they are habituated by crewed missions in the future. While preliminary exploratory missions are likely to begin by the end of this year, construction for the lunar base will begin as early as 2025.

While engineers are undecided on the final location of the lunar base, initial studies put the Amundsen crater on the South Pole as a potential site. The location runs parallel to the US Artemis mission, which is also targeting the lunar south pole for its return to the Moon.

As humans push towards the Moon with several lunar missions in the final stages including India’s Chandrayaan-3 and America’s Artemis, studying and analysing space weather becomes even more critical. China has already built a preliminary framework for a space weather operational mechanism and is able to make short to long-term weather prediction forecasts, the CMA said.

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India today

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