space weather
(SPAYS weth.ur; th as in the) n. Electrical storms generated when the solar wind emitted by the sun interacts with the Earth's magnetic field. Also: space-weather.
adj.

Example Citation:
Space weather involves the sun, the solar wind and the outer areas of the earth...The electricity, or "weather," emitted from the sun and solar wind can have an impact on Earth and interfere with satellites and other space technology.

One of the most recent and most problematic examples of the effects of space weather occurred in May of 1998, when a satellite controlling many pager systems in the United States failed.

In addition to satellite interference, space weather can cause power outages, force aircraft to reroute, disrupt communications and put astronauts at risk of radiation exposure. By forecasting space weather, [the Center for Integrated Space Weather Modeling] estimated hundreds of millions of dollars in damages could be saved per year.
—Liz Goldberg, "National Science Foundation gives Boston U. $20M grant," The Daily Free Press, September 18, 2002

Earliest Citation:
Sweden's Viking satellite is helping scientists gain valuable insights into the physics responsible for Earth's dazzling auroras, Nobel laureate Hannes Alfven said Monday...

Patricia Reiff of Rice University said the experiments are producing practical information about how the solar wind in polar regions induces spikes in house current, blocks radio reception and creates current that unexpectedly warms oil in the Alaska pipeline, changing its flow.

Pictures of global aurora can help build models for prediction of space weather, just as pictures of cloud cover help predict ground weather, she said.
—Robert Strand, "Sweden's satellite a success," United Press International, December 8, 1986

Earliest Citation (adjective):


America's "space weather bureau" hopes to improve its ability to predict how solar wind disturbs Earth's magnetic field — forecasts important for military surveillance, space flight, oil exploration and even homing pigeon breeders.

Current forecasts of so-called magnetic storms are "all seat-of-the-pants," JoAnn Joselyn, a physicist at the federal Space Environment Services Center in Boulder, Colo., said Thursday while attending a scientific conference at Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

But she said that with the help of a new computer, the center hopes next year to be able to mimic the National Weather Service's predictions of weather on Earth by issuing space weather forecasts in percentage terms. For example, the center would predict an 80 percent chance of a major magnetic storm in space the next day. A magnetic storm is caused when a strong gust of solar wind — a thin, hot gas of electrically charged particles speeding away from the sun at nearly 1 million mph — collides with the Earth's magnetic field.
—Lee Siegel, "Agency Plans To Improve space weather Forecasts," The Associated Press, February 14, 1985

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