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Last Post 3/22/2012 12:45 PM by  Kris Sigsbee
Solar Maximum
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3/22/2012 11:01 AM

    Hi my name is Sahar and I want to know how a solar maximum will affect earth and how NASA prepares for that. Also I would like to know how the biggest coronal mass ejection so far has affected earth.Oh yeah, I forgot to ask in my last question, what is your favorite book?

    Thanks so much, Sahar

    Tags: CME, Radiation Belts, space weather, Book, Solar Maximum

    Kris Sigsbee

    Basic Member

    Basic Member

    3/22/2012 12:45 PM

    Hi Sahar,

    One of the ways that scientists working at NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and universities prepare for the next solar maximum is to monitor conditions on the Sun and develop predictions of when the next solar maximum will be. This is not an easy task, as there can be conflicting opinions about when solar maximum will occur and what the peak sunspot number will be. Right now the next solar maximum is predicted to occur in May 2013. You can view the solar cycle progression at the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center -

    The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center issues warnings and alerts for solar activity and geomagnetic storms thorughout the solar cycle, so that satellite operators, the commerical aviation industry, the power industry, and others can be prepared. Scientists can also plan satellite missions to study the Sun and the Earth's magnetosphere based upon predictions of when the next solar maximum will be. For example, NASA's Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission will be launched later this year, just in time to help scientists study and monitor the Van Allen radiation belts during solar maximum.

    There are several effects solar maximum has on Earth's magnetosphere. It can change the scale height of the atmosphere, so that satellites in low-Earth orbits experience increased drag. When coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the Sun hit Earth, they can cause intense geomagnetic storms at solar maximum. These storms can cause increased radiation exposure for astronauts in the International Space Station and flight crews on trans-polar aircraft flights. The high-energy radiation belt electrons produced during a geomagnetic storm can damage communication and navigation satellites. The huge electrical currents generated in Earth's magnetosphere during a geomagnetic storm can damage electrical power systems here on Earth, and damage oil and natural gas pipelines. Fortunately, increased awareness of space weather effects means that scientists, engineers, and others can be prepared for geomagnetic storms at solar maximum and take the necessary steps to prevent these problems.

    It would be really difficult to pick my favorite book. I really enjoyed the Harry Potter books. I also enjoyed the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters. Amelia is an archaelogist sort of like Indiana Jones. I am currently reading the Vorkosigan Saga books by Lois McMaster Bujold.


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