Space Weather for Pluto


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

A THEMIS Report


A thin layer of cold, dense material called the plasmasphere surrounds Earth. Researchers using data from THEMIS have found that material in the plasmasphere can help prevent particles from the sun crossing into near Earth space.plasmasphereThe THEMIS mission observed how dense particles normally near Earth in a layer of the uppermost atmosphere called the plasmasphere can send a plume up through space to help protect against incoming solar particles during certain space weather events.Themis_plumeImage Credits: NASA

 

THEMIS Report


The Earth’s magnetic field which shields the planet from severe space weather often develops holes that allow the largest leaks of solar particles. This short animation shows what can happen based on findings from the Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms (THEMIS) mission.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TgxgGa6Ac6A]

Video Credit: NASA

Space Weather Forecast


We may see some effects from the Coronal Mass Ejection that occurred a couple of days ago. From the NOAA Space Weather page:

Forecasters expect the CME … to pass Earth late (UTC) on April 13 … Its passage will bring G2 (Moderate) Geomagnetic Storm conditions, with the brunt of the disturbance expected to fall over into April 14. The Solar Radiation Storm barely lingers near the S1(Minor) threshold.

Expect the Aurora Borealis to be visible as far south as Washington, DC, late tonight and early Sunday morning.