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What is space weather?

Activity on the sun’s surface creates the conditions known as space weather, that can, at its worst, damage Earth satellites and cause electrical blackouts.

The sun has made life on the innermost planets, Mercury and Venus, impossible, due to the intense radiation and colossal amounts of energetic material it blasts in every direction, creating the ever-changing conditions in space known as space weather.

Considering all of this, how did life come to thrive on Earth? Our magnetic field protects us from the solar wind — the constant stream of electrons, protons and heavier ions from the sun — and from coronal mass ejections (CMEs), the sun’s occasional outbursts of billion-ton clouds of solar plasma into space.

But the most extreme space weather events, arrivals of fast CMEs or high-speed solar-wind streams, disturb our protective magnetic shield, creating geomagnetic storms at Earth.

These storms have the potential to cause serious problems for modern technological systems, disrupting or damaging satellites in space and the multitude of services – like navigation and telecoms – that rely on them, blacking out power grids and radio communication and creating a radiation hazard for astronauts in space, even serving potentially harmful doses of radiation to astronauts on future missions to the moon or Mars.

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Bottom line: Video explains space weather, especially solar wind and CMEs.

Via ESA

Eleanor Imster

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