NASA Measures Impact of Huge Solar Flare on Earth’s Atmosphere

(multimedia) A key NASA instrument that can directly measure the impact of solar events on the Earth’s upper atmosphere has weighed in on the huge flare that impacted Earth last week. The flare was considered one of the largest solar events in years even though its impact on the power grid and communications was minimal due to the angle it hit Earth. Its direct interaction with the upper atmosphere was measured by NASA’s SABER (Sounding of the Atmosphere using Broadband Emission Radiometry) instrument orbiting on the TIMED (Thermosphere, Ionosphere, Mesosphere, Energetics and Dynamics) satellite. The upper atmosphere heated up, and huge spikes occurred in infrared emission from nitric oxide and carbon dioxide, said Marty Mlynczak, SABER’s associate-principal investigator at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va.

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