Home > Astronomy, Astrophysics, Aurorae, CME (Coronal Mass Ejections), Earth, General Astronomy, Solar System, Sun > Oslo-physicists use 20 new satellites to forecast space weather

Oslo-physicists use 20 new satellites to forecast space weather


The northern lights interfere with radio communications, GPS navigation and satellite communications. Researchers are now going to launch 20 satellites containing world class instruments from the University of Oslo to find out why.

Satellites are becoming increasingly important in communications and navigation. This makes us more vulnerable to the northern lights, especially within offshore and aviation. In a worst case scenario an aircraft can lose contact with its surroundings. Oil tankers can struggle with precise navigation.

In order to more precisely predict when radio communications and navigation will fail, researchers require more information about what happens when violent solar winds hit the Earth and produce the northern lights.

The solar winds consist of charged particles and produce powerful turbulence in the ionosphere, which consists of plasma clouds with electrical particles at an altitude of 80 to 500 km. The turbulence interferes with radio signals. Sometimes they are reflected wrongly. On other occasions the signals are blocked altogether.

“In the northern regions GPS satellites lie low in the sky. This means the signals have to pass through the ionosphere. This reinforces the navigation problems,” says professor Jøran Moen of the Department of Physics at University of Oslo (UiO), Norway.

Full story: http://www.apollon.uio.no/english/articles/2012/spaceweather.html

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