ERAU Prescott Observatory

Space Weather

Space weather is the concept of changing environmental conditions in near-Earth space or the space from the Sun's atmosphere to the Earth's atmosphere. It is distinct from the concept of weather within the Earth's planetary atmosphere (troposphere and stratosphere). Space Weather is the description of changes in the ambient plasma, magnetic fields, radiation and other matter in space. Much of space weather is driven by energy carried through interplanetary space by the solar wind from regions near the surface of the Sun and the Sun's atmosphere (chromosphere and corona).The term space weather is sometimes used to refer to changes in interplanetary (and occasionally interstellar) space.

A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)

Latest Magnetic Field Extrapolation

Latest magnetic field extrapolation

For more data go to

Current Solar Activity and Heliospheric Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) Conditions, click here.

Space Physics students are currently working on a variety of projects using many of the observatory radio astronomy detectors and telescopes to develop a continuous monitoring of near earth space weather. Using equipment that covers the very low frequency spectrum thru the HF spectrum and extending to the gigahertz region the students have developed, constructed and are beginning to operate several instruments to monitor the effects of solar activity on near Earth space and how this solar weather consisting of a variety of charged particles can affect the earth's ionosphere and subsequently have a significant effect on earths weather and manmade electrical systems. Northeast Power Grid Failure
Northeast Power Grid Failure 2004
due to Solar Storm

Simple Aurora Monitor (SAM) Project

The SAM project will be a dedicated 3-axis magnetometer buried underground for temperature stability feeding a sensor computer interface device. The received data is fed to a computer for 24 hour daily monitoring of the Earth's magnetic field in three axis. This data is compared to solar activity and can be compared to our other space weather monitoring equipment to understand how the sun is interacting with the Earth. We expect to see good correlation among various sensors that the observatory operates.

SAM Receiver SAM Magnetometer SAM Magnetometer Cages (3-axis) SAM Sensor Array
SAM 2-channel Detector SAM Magnetometer Magnetometer Mounting Cages SAM Sensor Array