NASA Science – The Surprising Power of a Solar Storm

A recent flurry of eruptions on the sun did more than spark pretty auroras around the poles. NASA-funded researchers say the solar storms of March 8th through 10th dumped enough energy in Earth’s upper atmosphere to power every residence in New York City for two years. “This was the biggest dose of heat we’ve received from a solar storm since 2005,” says Martin Mlynczak of NASA Langley Research Center. “It was a big event, and shows how solar activity can directly affect our planet.” Mlynczak is the associate principal investigator for the SABER instrument onboard NASA’s TIMED satellite. SABER monitors infrared emissions from Earth’s upper atmosphere, in particular from carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO), two substances that play a key role in the energy balance of air hundreds of km above our planet’s surface. “Carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are natural thermostats,” explains James Russell of Hampton University, SABER’s principal investigator. “When the upper atmosphere (or ‘thermosphere’) heats up, these molecules try as hard as they can to shed that heat back into space.” That’s what happened on March 8th when a coronal mass ejection (CME) propelled in our direction by an X5-class solar flare hit Earth’s magnetic field. (On the “Richter Scale of Solar Flares,” X-class flares are the most powerful kind.) Energetic particles rained down on the upper atmosphere, depositing their energy where they hit. The action produced spectacular auroras around the poles and

13 thoughts on “NASA Science – The Surprising Power of a Solar Storm”

  1. She really should have said, “There’s no practical use YET…”. When America learns how to innovate again, someone with a convincing imagination will conceptualize something both efficient and effective. You should be asking the questions, “Why can’t we harness the energy?”, “How much could we collect from it’s full force?” “What design and material would a satellite or ‘space reservoir’ need to both withstand and collect the energy? Not, “What’s in it for me?”

  2. springermusicnet

    the video said that we COULD NOT harness this energy so get off your anti-human soapbox. If you want to pay lots of extra money for a non-constant source of energy go ahead, but leave the rest of us alone. (why does NASA care about NY?)

  3. if there are more solar storms coming in 2013 its going to get just a litle more intresting here on earth, isnt earth axis asossiated with the magneting field?

  4. Humans are so wasteful, here we are using fossil fuels that originate from dead animals and we could be using this never ending source of power. How long have calculators used solar power? Seriously sad.

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  6. usernamesareforidiot

    Wow it is so sad that there are only 447 views, and these are the comments…

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