August 12, 2014

"Aurora, Airglow, and You: Exploring the Earth's Space Weather"

Asti Bhatt, Ph.D., and
Elizabeth Kendall, Ph.D.
SRI International

August 12, 2014
6:00 to 7:30 p.m.

Weather on earth -- such as thunderstorms, lightning, humidity, and drought -- has a large impact on our everyday existence and is part of our daily conversations. However, there is also "space weather", which is characterized by numerous phenomena, including hurricane-force winds, large temperature variations, and large-scale storms.

Space weather is complicated by the presence of electric fields in earth's upper atmosphere, as well as earth's magnetic field. The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and airglow are two of the most visible manifestations of space weather. Besides offering some of the most spectacular sights on earth, these phenomena can also help us understand and characterize space weather.

But why should we study space weather? Just as low-altitude meteorology affects critical functions on earth such as transport and communication, space weather affects all space-based communication and navigation systems, including cellphones and GPS. Considering our increasing dependence on space-based communication, we are increasingly at the mercy of space weather to ensure delivery of seamless, safe communication and navigation signals. However, compared to meteorology, space weather has sparse observational data dating back only a few decades.

SRI space weather scientists Elizabeth Kendall and Asti Bhatt will discuss what space weather is, how it affects our daily lives, and the all-sky imaging method they use to detect space weather's impact on earth.

Learn about SRI's Center for Geospace Studies.