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Space weather modeling framework simulation of the September 10, 2014, coronal mass ejection Credit: Gabor Tot

Protecting Earth from space storms

"There are only two natural disasters that could impact the entire U.S.," according to scientist Gabor Toth of the University of Michigan. "One is a pandemic, and the other is an extreme space weather event."

The U.S. is currently seeing the effects of the first in real-time. The last major space weather event struck Earth in 1859. Smaller, but still significant, space weather events occur regularly. They fry electronics and power grids, disrupt global positioning systems, cause shifts in the range of the aurora borealis, and raise the risk of radiation to astronauts or passengers on planes crossing over the poles.

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