This video shows a simulation of the space weather environment all the way out to Pluto for the months surrounding the New Horizons July, 2015, flyby. Space weather researchers at Goddard Space Flight Center worked with the New Horizons team to test how well models contributed by scientists around the world predicted the environment at Pluto. Understanding the environment through which our spacecraft travel can allow engineers to design them to survive radiation and other potentially damaging effects.
The vacuum of space is about a thousand times emptier than a laboratory vacuum, but it’s still not completely empty. The Sun continually sends out streams of particles called the solar wind and occasionally throws off denser clouds of particles known as coronal mass ejections, or CMEs—both containing embedded magnetic fields. The density, speed, and temperature of these particles, as well as the direction and strength of the embedded magnetic fields, make up the space weather environment.[youtube http://youtu.be/o-LVK5TuKcA]
Video Credit: NASA