Astra plays Chess to mitigate space effects on power grid

  • July 29, 2020
  • Steve Rogerson
A new data integration, discovery, and decision-support system to mitigate space weather impact

Colorado-based Astra aims to achieve a more resilient US power gridby mitigating the impact of space weather.
Given the US power grid’s complexity and interconnection problems, ensuring continuous electrical power generation and delivery demands diverse expertise. Not widely known by the public, space weather poses a significant threat to electrical grid health.
The Astra-led and National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Convergence Hub for the Exploration of Space Science (Chess) project brings together critical cross-disciplinary knowledge and tools to address this and enhance the grid’s resilience to space weather events.
“The Chess programme is designed to change how we monitor, protect and make decisions about the power grid we rely on in our daily lives,” said Bill Baker, Astra senior vice president.
Chess provides expertise, tools and information from the space weather, geoscience, power utility and data science communities to support decisions related to space-weather threats to the US power grid.
It connects these communities, providing information to support utility managers’ decision making, and enabling space weather researchers to explore how space weather events trigger power outages. In collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Georgia Institute of Technology and UCLA, and a broad community of stakeholders, Astra has designed and developed the Chess platform and will start to implement technology and knowledge sharing with various power utilities across North America.
“Chess is like Google Maps with predictive intelligence for the power grid, putting the power of awareness and prediction into the hands of those who need to keep the lights on for society,” said Ryan McGranaghan, principal data scientist at Astra and Chess principal investigator. “Astra is proud to be chosen by NSF to develop an intelligent data solution that could enhance forecasting of disruptive events to the Earth’s power grid, with potential for significant impact on human life.”
Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates (Astra) was born from the vision to apply fundamental space physics knowledge to real-world problems. Founded in 2005, Astra leverages scientific and engineering expertise to address complex space physics disciplines, instrumentation, modelling capabilities and data analytics.