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This image of a solar storm was taken by SOHO.
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National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

SOHO Watches Waves
News story originally written on March 13, 2000

The SOHO spacecraft has made a great discovery! Scientists found a way to forcast space weather weeks in advance. Until now, we had no way to tell when a solar disturbance was heading towards Earth.

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) can monitor waves that travel through the Sun from the far side. The far side is the half of the Sun not facing the Earth. These waves can travel through the Sun because the star is a very hot ball of gas, a great medium for sound waves to travel through. It takes 27 days for the Sun to complete one rotation, giving us plenty of notice before the solar storm faces Earth.

Scientists say that right now SOHO could not be used as a daily forcasting satellite. Either the way data is being retrieved will have to be modified, or another satellite will be sent into space to be a forcasting satellite.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA