Space weather, in a nutshell, is the conditions in the space environment that we are interested in because they have impacts on the health and safety of equipment and humans in space and on the ground,” says Michael Hesse, chief of the Space Weather Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Illustration adapted from NASA by Scott MacNeill

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  • Space weather is any condition in outer space that impacts technology on Earth. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) seeks to better understand space weather, capturing images and video of the sun in action. Solar-caused features of space weather include solar wind, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections (CME). Global positioning systems, radio transmitters, and even power grids on Earth can be affected by space weather.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    coronal mass ejection Noun

    huge burst of solar wind and other charged particles.

    Earth Noun

    our planet, the third from the Sun. The Earth is the only place in the known universe that supports life.

    Encyclopedic Entry: Earth
    Global Positioning System (GPS) Noun

    system of satellites and receiving devices used to determine the location of something on Earth.

    NASA Noun

    (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) the U.S. space agency, whose mission statement is "To reach for new heights and reveal the unknown so that what we do and learn will benefit all humankind."

    outer space Noun

    space beyond Earth's atmosphere.

    power grid Noun

    network of cables or other devices through which electricity is delivered to consumers. Also called an electrical grid.

    radio transmitter Noun

    device that sends out sound signals.

    solar Adjective

    having to do with the sun.

    Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) Noun

    NASA mission designed to understand the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth.

    solar flare Noun

    explosion in the sun's atmosphere, which releases a burst of energy and charged particles into the solar system.

    solar wind Noun

    flow of charged particles, mainly protons and electrons, from the sun to the edge of the solar system.

    space weather Noun

    changes in the environment outside the Earth's atmosphere, usually influenced by the sun.

    technology Noun

    the science of using tools and complex machines to make human life easier or more profitable.