Flotilla of spacecraft to give accurate space weather forecasts

February 13th, 2011 - 1:56 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Feb 13 (ANI): Space scientists from the UK may soon send a flotilla of spacecraft into orbit around the sun to provide an early warning system for the huge solar explosions that can interfere with electronic equipment on Earth and even influence our planet’s weather.

The scientists are hoping to send the spacecrafts to provide round-the-clock three-dimensional images of the material thrown out by the sun towards the Earth, reports the Telegraph.

They are hoping to build on the success of a recent NASA mission, called Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO), which was launched to provide three-dimensional images of coronal mass ejections from the sun.

These huge explosions throw millions of tonnes of superheated particles and radiation out into the solar system, which can disrupt radio communications, interfere with electrical equipment, cause power outages and knock out satellites.

They are also thought to bring about changes in the Earth’s upper atmosphere that can influence the weather.

Richard Harrison, principal investigator on STEREO mission at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK who is now among the scientists planning the new forecasting system, said: “We are talking about relatively cheap spacecraft, but the orbit is awkward, so one of the things we are considering is build a lot of little spacecraft, send them out one at a time so that they are drifting around the Earth’s orbit of the Sun so that at any time two of these will be able to send back images of the space between the Earth and sun.”

These new spacecrafts will allow experts to predict the threats from the coronal mass injections from the sun while it could also help terrestrial weather forecasters make more accurate predictions. (ANI)

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