Monday, April 19, 2010

Magnetic Storm/ Coronal Mass Ejection

Artist concept of the impact of solar activity on Earth

Using the suite of instruments on board Solar-B, scientists will study solar activity including coronal mass ejections. When these blast through the sun's outer atmosphere and plow toward Earth at speeds of thousands of miles per second, the resulting effects can be harmful to communication satellites and astronauts outside the Earth's magnetosphere. On the ground, the magnetic storm wrought by these solar particles can knock out electric power. A better understanding of this solar activity could give people on Earth more time to prepare by placing satellites in a safe configuration, planning the best time for astronaut space walks or rocket launches, and implementing contingency plans to deal with any power outages.
Magnetic Storm
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A geomagnetic storm is a temporary disturbance of the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a disturbance in space weather. Associated with solar coronal mass ejections (CME), coronal holes, or solar flares, a geomagnetic storm is caused by a solar wind shock wave which typically strikes the Earth's magnetic field 24 to 36 hours after the event. This only happens if the shock wave travels in a direction toward Earth. The solar wind pressure on the magnetosphere will increase or decrease depending on the Sun's activity. These solar wind pressure changes modify the electric currents in the ionosphere

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