NARRATOR:This is our Sun.
You already know it’s an essential part of life on Earth. To state the obvious... it keeps us warm, it makes our plants grow, we even use it as an energy source.
But in this NOVA Lab, you’ll meet another side of the Sun—its unpredictable, mysterious side.
You see, our Sun can throw off massive storms of matter and energy–and it can send them directly toward Earth.
For most of human history, these solar storms haven’t been much of a problem. But now, because of our dependence on modern technology, we’re vulnerable to extreme “space weather” like never before.
If a huge solar storm struck Earth today, a combination of radiation, charged particles, and intense magnetic fields would wreak havoc. It could harm astronauts, fry satellites, and cause surges that severely damage our power grid, knocking out power and communication for weeks, months, even years. That means no cell phones, no email, no lights… basically, a disaster.
Fortunately, the past ten years have brought a revolution in solar research. Scientists can now see the Sun in more detail than ever before. And while they can’t prevent solar storms from happening, they are getting much better at predicting them, buying critical time to take measures that would protect the grid and other technologies.
But, why not see for yourself? In this Lab, you’ll learn all about the Sun and the weather it throws off. And you’ll get to do your own research, using the same NASA tool that scientists use to predict when the next big solar storm might hit.
So come into the Lab, and take a look at the dark side of the Sun. You never know what you’ll find.