You think the sun is just some life giving bright thing in the sky that you can take for granted, but I think it's a bit more than just that. Today, I was invited to take a survey through an email I received from NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center. The survey was presented by Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Lab (LMSAL) as a way to determine just how minor or severe the impact of the the space environment might be on humans and their activities.
The survey, Impacts of Space Weather was particularly interesting to me because I'm one who does follow how the sun impacts our planet. Not as a scientist per se, but I do think the solar occurrences like coronal mass ejections and the solar wind do have more impact on our lives than is spoken of in common conversation. I don't have enough scientific background to go into detail, but I will say that I find it fascinating that the solar flares that shoot off towards our planet can be deflected as it were by our magnetosphere, but did you know there is also a boomerang effect where the energy from those flares can bouce back and jolt our planet again?
A few years ago one of our local weather forecasters (Steve Pool) on our local Seattle station KOMO mentioned that they were thinking of adding solar occurrences to the broadcast. I was excited about that and was looking forward to seeing how the solar information would be presented. After all, the sun does affect things like cell phones, TV transmissions, radio, etc. and wouldn't' those in who use those forms of communication want to know if there was going to be a disruption? Well, it NEVER HAPPENED. Nothing. Ever after, I wondered if the businesses in those categories quashed the idea as "too much information" to share with the public.
Have any of you read the book Solar Rain by Mitch Battros? Solar Rain - Mitch Battros It came out in 2005, and I have to say, it was a very enlightening view of the relationship between Earth and the Sun. A shortened excerpt says, "Solar Rain' is an account of how solar activity, such as sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass ejections affects Earth’s weather. It details the mechanics of how the Sun works, and the physics of interplanetary space, plus the specific impacts on our planet’s atmosphere and magnetosphere."
I'm not really trying to sell a book here, even though that is an affilaite link. I am suggesting that you start keeping track of sun spots, CME's and perhaps subscribe to Space Weather (free) as a way to monitor what is happening in space and how it might affect your health, environment, etc. It's not all about the Northern or Southern Lights you know. That big ball of gas we call the sun is currently in a solar cycle #24, and even though it started off quietly in 2008, it's now ramping up and might even peak twice this year. So, why is Lockheed Martin doing a survey now?
Solar Effects on Earth - NOAA image and article here.