Space Weather: Big and Small, A Continuous Risk

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Friday, May 10, 2019

"Space Weather" is the term used to describe the relentless barrage of particles that bathe the Earth and other planetary bodies of the solar system that originate in the steady evolution, and catastrophic breakdown, of magnetic structures on the Sun.

Artistic rendering of the Sun and its atmosphere consist
The Sun and its atmosphere consist of several zones, or layers, from the inner core to the outer corona. Beyond the corona is the solar wind, which is an outward expansion of coronal plasma that fills the solar system. Controlled by the Earths magnetic field, the magnetosphere acts as a shield protecting our planet from solar wind. The shape of the Earth's magnetosphere is the direct result of being impacted by solar wind - compressed on the sunward side and elongated on the night-side creating a feature known as the magnetotail. The relentless magnetic activity of the Sun directly in uences the near-Earth environment. Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Sun literally generates the weather that populates and pervades the solar system. In our society, growing in technical dependence, the constant drip of space weather can impact ground-based infrastructure, drains satellite systems in space, presents a radiation hazard to robotic and human explorers while also protecting us from relativistic cosmic rays that penetrate from deep space, that beyond our solar system.

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Publication Name: The Journal of Space Safety Engineering
First HAO Author's Name: Scott W. McIntosh