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Solar Wind Putting the Squeeze on Earth's Atmosphere
News story originally written on December 10, 1998

NASA researchers used the Polar spacecraft to prove that solar storms push part of our atmosphere into space. The solar particles that hit the Earth's ionosphere squeeze part of the atmosphere into space.

An instrument on Polar measured a large increase in gases leaving the atmosphere in September, 1998. This happened at the same time a coronal mass ejection increased the density of the solar wind. The increased density pushed more gases into space. About a few hunderd tons of gas were lost. That's about the same as the mass of oxygen in the Louisiana Superdome.

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