The changing environmental conditions from the sun’s atmosphere are known as space weather. Space weather is caused by electromagnetic radiation and charged particles that are released from solar storms. Changes in the magnetic field and a continuous flow of solar particles during a powerful storm headed to Earth can disrupt communications, navigation, and power grids as well as result in spacecraft damage and exposure to dangerous radiation. GOES-R Series satellites host a suite of instruments that detect approaching space weather hazards.
Activity on the Sun can cause space weather storms that affect us here on Earth. Solar storms can impact the technology we rely on everyday: Global Positioning Systems (GPS), satellites, and electric power grids. Just as with other types of
weather, the National Weather Service forecasts space weather disturbances and serves as the official source for civilian alerts and warnings.
Space weather is a consequence of the behavior of the Sun, the nature of Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere, and our location in the solar system. There are various phenomena that originate from the Sun that can result in space weather storms. Outbursts from huge explosions on the Sun—Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections (CME)—send space weather storms hurling outward through our solar system. The Sun also emits a continuous stream of radiation in the form of charged particles that make up the plasma of the solar wind.
Space weather refers to variations in the space environment between the sun and Earth (and throughout the solar system) that can affect technologies in space and on Earth. In addition to the heat and
light we are familiar with, the sun produces coronal mass ejections,
flares, particle events, and high speed solar wind streams. When
these phenomena are aimed at Earth, we get space weather.
Producing accurate space weather forecasts depends on understanding these phenomena and how they interact with the near-Earth environment.