ScienceDaily reports on the latest advances in understanding how the solar wind interacts with Earth. Note the seasonal aspects and the electric current findings.
Aurora over Antarctica [image credit: spacefellowship.com]
A team of National Science Foundation (NSF)-supported researchers at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) discovered new evidence about how Earth’s magnetic field interacts with solar wind, almost as soon as they finished installing six data-collection stations across East Antarctic Plateau last January.
Their findings could have significant effects on our understanding of space weather. Although invisible to the naked eye, space weather can have serious, detrimental effects on modern technological infrastructure, including telecommunications, navigation, and electrical power systems.
The researchers for the first time observed that regardless of the hemisphere or the season, the polar ionosphere is subject to a constant electrical current, produced by pressure changes in the solar wind.