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Space Weather

Space Weather refers to the adverse impact of upper-atmosphere disturbances on terrestrial technological systems. Our planet and its infrastructure are becoming increasingly reliant on space-based assets (e.g satellites) for communications and monitoring (e.g. weather forecasting). A good knowledge of the characteristics of the space environment is very important for the design of communications systems relying on transmission paths through the upper atmosphere and well as for the protection and survivability of electronics exposed to the often-hostile space environment. Disturbances in this system, magnetosphere/ionosphere storms, create drastic changes in this environment permitting solar-energized charged particles to penetrate deep into the atmosphere and coupling strong electrical currents from the magnetosphere into ground-based electrical power systems, pipelines, and communications networks which support our day to day activities.

Space weather research at the Haystack Observatory concentrates on effects seen in radio-propagation systems. Observations of such effects with systems such as GPS navigation receivers and radar backscatter receivers provides the information needed to isolate and understand the causative atmospheric perturbations. Statistical studies of the occurrence characteristics of these effects describe the Space Weather environment in support of others' system-design activities, while event studies identify and quantify new effects and assess their potential impact on technological systems.

Space Weather FX logo Space Weather FX is a vodcast (video podcast) series that explores the science of space weather and how it can impact our every day lives. Funded by a grant from NASA, atmospheric scientists from MIT Haystack Observatory, working together with Loch Ness Productions, have created an exciting introduction to what happens when the Sun stirs up a little space weather. Click on the graphic to connect to the Space Weather FX series.


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