Space Weather

In this post, we will be discussing space weather! Space weather is dissimilar from the weather that we experience on earth, however it is still fascinating to understand. Space weather, in our solar system, is sparked by activity on the suns surface. Spewing gases and solar flares on the surface of the sun form into a stream of particles that we call solar wind. Solar wind carries all of these particles toward earth and the rest of our solar system at up to a million miles per hour. Luckily, due to earths atmosphere, these particles do not enter our atmosphere and we are protected from the harsh solar wind that the sun gives off. Shown in the image below, the atmosphere surrounding earth serves as a shield which deflects this wind.

An illustration showing the Sun's solar wind as orange flares blowing toward Earth and shaping Earth's magnetic field as blue lines
Image of solar wind deflecting on earths atmosphere, retrieved from NASA

Although incredibly deadly and harsh, sometimes these charged particles are able to sneak into our atmosphere and create something beautiful. This beauty is non other than the auroras that some people can only dream of witnessing.

A photograph of green aurora against a dark night sky
An Aurora as seen in Alaska, retrieved from NASA

Devastating to a world without an atmosphere, space weather is a fascinating side effect of a constantly volatile and hot space object similar to our sun. Luckily, we are born on a world with a natural defense and if any of these particles manage to pass through, a marvelous spectacle is waiting to happen.


Atmospheres of Terrestrial Worlds

In this blog we will be discussing the atmospheres of terrestrial worlds; more specifically what an atmosphere really is and the difference in atmospheres between different worlds. An atmosphere is simply a “layer of gas that surrounds a world.” In general, this relatively thin layer of gas is responsible for blocking the suns rays and trapping heat within a world. In the example of earth, the atmosphere is essential to our survival. Earth’s atmosphere creates a pressure barrier that allows for water to exist in all three states, oxygen to exist within our globe without escape, and maintain a temperature that is suitable for living. Below is an image that shows what earths atmosphere looks like from space.

Earth’s atmosphere from space

So, how does our atmosphere differ from other worlds within our very own solar system?

Mercury and our moon are similar in that their atmosphere is SO insignificant that they are often thought to not have one. This means that the suns harsh rays come in immediate contact with the surface as they are not scattered by a layer of gas. This also means that when standing on the surface of these worlds, the sky will be pitch black as opposed to Earth.

Venus, on the other hand, has a thick atmosphere. This makes it so that the sky is always cloudy and gloomy and the heat that is created as a result of volcanic activity is there to stay.