Exploring the earth’s space weather is Café Scientifique topic on Aug. 12

by Contributed Content on August 11, 2014

Weather on earth — such as thunderstorms, lightning, humidity, and drought — has a large impact on our everyday existence and is part of our daily conversations. However, there is also “space weather”, which is characterized by numerous phenomena, including hurricane-force winds, large temperature variations, and large-scale storms.

Space weather is complicated by the presence of electric fields in earth’s upper atmosphere, as well as earth’s magnetic field. The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and airglow are two of the most visible manifestations of space weather. Besides offering some of the most spectacular sights on earth, these phenomena can also help us understand and characterize space weather.

But why should we study space weather? Just as low-altitude meteorology affects critical functions on earth such as transport and communication, space weather affects all space-based communication and navigation systems, including cellphones and GPS. Considering our increasing dependence on space-based communication, we are increasingly at the mercy of space weather to ensure delivery of seamless, safe communication and navigation signals. However, compared to meteorology, space weather has sparse observational data dating back only a few decades.

SRI space weather scientists Asti Bhatt and Elizabeth Kendall will discuss what space weather is, how it affects our daily lives, and the all-sky imaging method they use to detect space weather’s impact on earth in a talk titled “Aurora, Airglow, and You: Exploring the Earth’s Space Weather.”

The event takes place from 6:00 to 7:30 pm on Tuesday, August 12 at  SRI —International Building (Middlefield Road at Ringwood Avenue). Follow signs to event or Conference Center parking. Please do not park at SRI’s main entrance (333 Ravenswood Avenue).


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