Predicting solar storms just got more precise - Having a personal Faraday cage is still a good idea

08/11/2015 - 19:46

When the sun hurls a billion tons of high-energy particles and magnetic fields into space at speeds of more than a million miles per hour and the "space weather" conditions are right, the resulting geomagnetic storm at Earth can wreak havoc on communication and navigation systems, electrical power grids, and pose radiation hazards to astronauts and airline passengers and crew.

Being able to predict when those conditions are right is a key scientific goal, and researchers from the University of New Hampshire's Space Science Center (SSC) are now adding some powerful tools to the predictive toolbox using data from NASA's MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, Geo-chemistry, and Ranging, or MESSENGER, spacecraft, which orbited our solar system's innermost planet, Mercury, beginning in March 2011 until its planned crash into the planet on April 30, 2015.


Interplanetary Coronal Mass Ejections from MESSENGER orbital observations at Mercury. Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics (2015) | DOI: 10.1002/2015JA021200