For years, citizens in the United States have had access to televised weather as well as radar images of storm activity from around the world. Weather prediction has become increasingly accurate with the advancement of technology and should continue to get better. For the majority of people following the weather has become a routine part of their lives. As a society we seem to be well educated about the weather occurring on our own planet but we know little of the weather that occurs in space.
Space weather affects the earth in many different ways. In less than a year scientists hope to be able to predict the weather in space like meteorologists do here on earth. A new spacecraft called IMAGE (which I will discuss later in detail), launched in 2000 and will carry many instruments that will paint a picture of space weather for scientists. Scientists will then be able to predict when space storms will hit. Most people don't even notice when a space storm is occurring but they are still affected. Space storms have the most severe effects on power grids, satellites, and astronauts.
During space storms a strong current is created in the upper atmosphere called the auroral electrojet. This is created from many electrons traveling at high speeds towards the earth as well as charged particles swirling around the earth and colliding with the upper atmosphere. This current can cause fluctuations in the geomagnetic field, which can cause electrical surges in power lines on the ground. An example is on March 13, 1989, an intense geomagnetic storm knocked out the Hydro-Quebec power grid and put large parts of Canada into darkness.
Satellites are affected when particles strike the sa...
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...inate at the coronal holes. Coronal holes are regions of the sun where the corona is dark. Coronal holes are associated with "open" magnetic filed lines and are often found at the Sun's poles.
I have discussed the effects of space weather on humans as well as compared Space weather to terrestrial weather. The new space weatherman "IMAGE" has been introduced. Several space weather concepts have been discussed such as: Geometric storms, CME's, Solar Wind, IMF, Solar Flares, and the Bastile Day Storm. The Bastile Day Strom should have tied all of the aspects of space storms that I have discussed together.
Humans are at the beginning of understanding space weather. The IMAGE spacecraft is an excellent opportunity to expand on that knowledge. With new advancements in technology our knowledge of space weather should someday surpass even are wildest dreams.
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