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SOHO (Solar and Helispheric Observatory) monitors the Sun from an orbit slightly sunward of Earth.
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How do Satellites & Spacecraft Monitor Space Weather?

Satellites in space help us measure space weather. They collect info about the Sun, Earth's magnetosphere, Earth's atmosphere, and space weather.

Spacecraft that Watch the Sun

Some spacecraft watch the Sun. They have special telescopes for looking at the Sun and the Sun's atmosphere. Some can "see" the Sun in wavelengths like X-rays. We can't "see" X-rays from Earth's surface, so it's important that we have spacecraft that can!

Spacecraft that Measure the Solar Wind

A solar wind of charged particles flows out from the Sun. Some spacecraft measure the solar wind near Earth. Other spacecraft observe the solar wind near other planets, comets, asteroids or wherever that mission might take the spacecraft.

Spacecraft that Observe Magnetospheres

Earth has a strong magnetic field. Earth's magnetic field actually makes a "magnetic bubble" called a magnetosphere around itself in space. Satellites orbiting Earth observe our planet's magnetosphere to see how space weather is affecting it.

Watching the Aurora from Space

Have you ever seen the Northern (or Southern) Lights? These lights (or aurora) can be seen from Earth. Guess what? They can also be seen from space! Astronauts have taken pictures of aurora. Some spacecraft can also observe the whole auroral oval around a pole at once.

Keeping an Eye on the Atmosphere

Space weather makes changes in Earth's atmosphere. Satellites help us keep track of how the atmosphere changes.

Special Orbits for Space Weather Spacecraft

Some of the spacecraft that observe space weather are in special orbits. Some satellites loop over the North and South Poles in polar orbits that let them watch auroras. Some hang around a special "LaGrange point" between Earth and the Sun.

Last modified May 11, 2006 by Jennifer Bergman.

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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