The "Meridian Project," a massive scientific research project that will monitor weather in space, became fully operational this week.
The Meridian Space Weather Monitoring Project is the China's first space weather monitoring project and will lead the field in multiple areas, according to a statement from the National Space Science Center at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).
"The project will help China's space program achieve major breakthroughs, enhance the country's competence in space and safeguard the security of the nation's space activities," says Wu Ji, general manager of the project and director of the National Space Science Center.
The project began in January 2008, providing forecasts and warnings for the Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 missions in 2011 and the Shenzhou-9 mission in June, according to the statement.
The project aims to "investigate space weather cause-consequence chains in solar-terrestrial space, as well as understand the processes behind catastrophic space weather events and the regional characteristics of the environment above China's territory," according to the statement.
A large-scale ground-based monitoring system composed of 15 stations will be set up as part of the project, according to the CAS. A comprehensive multi-layered and inter-disciplinary survey and exploration of space will be conducted as well.
Another similar project is in the works. Authorities are creating plans for the International Space Weather Meridian Circle Program, which will consist of another series of ground-based monitoring stations that will "greatly enhance China's ability to monitor the space environment worldwide," the statement says.
The stations will monitor a large area between Russia and Australia, as well as other regions.
"Most countries in these regions have applauded the project," according to the statement.