How space weather effects communication

September 22nd, 2013

sun spaceMost of us don’t give much thought to the technology that delivers our content, until we experience a slow internet connection or our cable goes out.

Orbiting more than 22,000 miles above Earth, satellites provide much of our access to the internet, mobile phone service, and cable television. Just like on Earth, there is weather in space — and it can be extreme.

The satellites are shielded for protection, but over time radiation and other forces can degrade their components — and performance. And when the satellites fail, so do our internet and cable connections.

Assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics Kerri Cahoy and graduate student Whitney Lohmeyer SM ’13 analyzed the correlation between space weather and satellite failures. They published their findings in the journal Space Weather.

More information:

MIT News Office coverage

Kerri Cahoy Lab

Department of Aero/Astro

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