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Solar Wind

  1. Feb 12, 2008 #1
    In my astronomy class we have been talking about the solar wind, and how during the solar maximum when the activity is high the solar wind increases and can penetrate into the magnetic field more. This penetration can disturb satellites and even some things that are on the earths surface. So my question is, how do spacecraft protect themselves from the solar wind when they venture out of the earths magnetic field, such as the soho telescope? Also how far does our magnetic field extend into space?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 12, 2008 #2


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    Spacecraft don't have to protect themselves very much from the solar wind - the electrons and protons are not very energetic and are easily stopped by metal. High energy cosmic rays are a problem especially for delicate scientific instruments - but there's nothing you can ussually do to shield from them.

    The solar max is actually a problem because is disturbs the Earth's field which migt then reach the satelite, the magnetic field is much more of a problem - it can destroy satelites easily.
    Even without a solar max there are regions of the Earth where the geology changes the magnetic field and makes it stronger at some altitudes - eg. the South Atlantic Anomally is especially annoying because the Space Telescope's orbit passes through it, knocking out some systems for a large part of each orbit.
  4. Feb 20, 2008 #3
    The limit of the magnetosphere, the `magnetopause', reaches about 10 earth radii in the sunward direction but extends much further away from the sun. The `magnetotail' reaches out beyond lunar orbit, though the actual extent varies depending on the intensity and orientation of the solar wind. Interestingly, the parity has a larger impact on how the geomagnetic field is affected by the solar wind that the intensity alone.
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