How Do Space Weather Effects & Solar Storms Affect Earth?

  • Released Friday, September 29th, 2023
  • Updated Wednesday, November 15th, 2023 at 12:45AM
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Modern society depends on a variety of technologies susceptible to the extremes of space weather. Strong electrical currents driven along the Earth’s surface during auroral events disrupt electric power grids and contribute to the corrosion of oil and gas pipelines. Changes in the ionosphere during geomagnetic storms interfere with high-frequency radio communications and Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation. During polar cap absorption events caused by solar protons, radio communications can be compromised for commercial airliners on transpolar crossing routes. Exposure of spacecraft to energetic particles during solar energetic particle events and radiation belt enhancements cause temporary operational anomalies, damage critical electronics, degrade solar arrays, and blind optical systems such as imagers and star trackers.

Human and robotic explorers across the solar system are also affected by solar activity. Research has shown, in a worst-case scenario, astronauts exposed to solar particle radiation can reach their permissible exposure limits within hours of the onset of an event. Surface-to-orbit and surface-to-surface communications are sensitive to space weather storms.

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Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

  • Technical support
    • Amy Moran (Global Science and Technology, Inc.) [Lead]