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Space weather storms can cause trouble on Earth. Strong storms can mess up radio signals, shut down electrical systems, and expose people to radiation.
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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.

Last modified February 26, 2009 by Randy Russell.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF