Space weather storms can cause trouble on Earth. Strong storms can mess up radio signals, shut down electrical systems, and expose people to radiation.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy L. J. Lanzerotti, Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, Inc.
How does Space Weather affect Life on Earth?
Earth's magnetic field is a shield that keeps most of space weather's effects where they belong; safely out in space! But space weather does effect life on Earth.
Outside of the Earth's magnetic field, radiation from the Sun can hurt satellites. We use these satellites for some radio stations, cell phones and TV stations. We also use those satellites for Earth weather reporting and to provide the Global Positioning
System (your parents' car may use this system to help give directions). This same radiation could be a hazard to astronauts too.
Inside the Earth's magnetic field, space weather has its effects too. Space weather storms can change magnetic signals so that compasses don't work well and even homing pigeons get confused. Space weather storms can also destroy electrical power grids causing the loss of electricity to many people. This size storm doesn't happen very often, but it's important to know when a storm does happen so that we can keep people and things safe.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
The Earth has a magnetic field with north and south poles. The magnetic field of the Earth is surrounded by the magnetosphere. The magnetosphere keeps most of the particles from the sun, carried in solar...more
The text for this level hasn't been written yet. Please check the "Intermediate" or "Advanced" level of this page (click on the bar near the top of this page)....more
Certain animal species on Earth (such as the homing pigeon) are able to detect Earth's magnetic field and use it for navigational purposes. Homing pigeons have been known to reach home by flying over 1,6...more
Space weather "storms" can cause problems on Earth. They can even mess up our systems that make electricity. They can also damage the wires and other equipment used to deliver electricity to peoples' houses....more
Radiation can damage electronic circuits. Radiation can also cause electronics to malfunction. Radiation can damage the materials used in electronics over time. That can make the electronics wear out sooner....more
Interested in doing a project related to space weather for a science fair? The Stanford SOLAR Center provides information about space weather monitors that you can build yourself, including the Sudden...more
The Sun is huge. It has an effect on things even if they are far from the Sun. The "bubble" where the Sun has an effect on things is called the heliosphere. It goes even past Pluto! The place...more