How can solar wind affect life on earth?

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May 22, 2016

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Solar Wind is a term that refers to the constant stream of charged particles flowing from the Sun. It can disrupt communications and navigation systems when strong enough.

Explanation:

Solar Wind is a term that refers to the constant stream of charged particles flowing from the Sun and through which the Earth moves.

Most of the time, we on Earth don't notice it. The magnetic field of the Earth (also known as the magnetosphere) helps keep the charged particles away from the Earth's surface - they stream around the Earth and don't touch the surface.

However, some particles don't stream over the Earth and are instead captured by the Van Allen belt, which pulls the particles towards the poles and can, if there are enough particles, cause the Northern/Southern Lights.

With the advent of communications and other satellites that orbit the Earth, a sufficiently powerful Solar Wind (also known when it is intense as a Solar Storm) can knock out the electronics of those satellites. Rarely, a storm is so powerful that it can affect electronics on the surface of the Earth and burn out electronic components.

The following link is a good reference to how the Solar Wind can affect us on Earth.

http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.eiu.solarwind/solar-winds-effect-on-earth/

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