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Earth's Magnetic Field

The magnetic field is like a bar magnet inside Earth; the magnetic field can flip.

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Space Weather

Space Weather

Credit: Richard Carrington
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carrington_Richard_sunspots_1859.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

These sunspots in 1859 generated a powerful solar storm that stimulated extremely bright auroras much further from the poles than usual. The greatest communications method of the time, telegraphs, failed. A similar solar storm now could be devastating.

Why It Matters

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sun_earth_jupiter_whole_600.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

A solar prominence shows Jupiter and Earth for scale (yes, Earth is there, just below Jupiter) [Figure2]

  • Conditions in space are not constant. Changes on the Sun bring different conditions out into the solar system.
  • Space weather can knock out sensitive technologies, just as weather on Earth can bring human activities in a region of the planet to a halt.
  • The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space keeps track of space weather and our possible responses to it.

Show What You Know

With the link below, learn more about space weather. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What is the purpose of the United Nations Committee discussed in the video and what do they do?
  2. What causes bad space weather?
  3. What can bad space weather do on Earth?
  4. What protects Earth from much of the damage from space weather?
  5. Why does the United Nations need to get involved with monitoring space weather?
  6. What effect might the sun’s surface have on Earth’s climate?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Richard Carrington; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Carrington_Richard_sunspots_1859.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sun_earth_jupiter_whole_600.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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