As humanity expands its presence on the Moon and Mars, we venture outside of our Earth’s protective magnetic bubble and into the dynamic space weather system driven by the sun. On Earth, we feel the effects of space weather during extreme solar storms, which can produce intense x-ray flares and massive explosions that deform our planet’s strong magnetic field, generating the aurora. Much as Earth weather influences the voyages of earthbound explorers, interplanetary space weather is an important consideration for these space-borne explorers. Several currently operating and future NASA and ESA missions seek to uncover persisting mysteries about our sun, including the source of supersonic plasma flows we call the solar wind, and what conditions lead to massive solar eruptions associated with intense x-ray flares. Lastly, what we learn about how our sun locally can be extended to inform what we see at other distant stars.
Speaker: Phyllis Whittlesey, UC Berkeley
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