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A new satellite is travelling 1.5 million kilometers over a 110-day period to enter an orbit of the sun. It is called DSCOVR —the Deep Space Climate Observatory. It will replace a satellite that has been observing space weather.

DSCOVR will begin its work during the worst of the 11-year-long solar cycle. This is a time when extreme weather on the sun can have the greatest effect on planet Earth.

DSCOVR will gather information about a continuing flow of particles (粒子流)from the sun. We are protected from these particles by the Earth's magnetic field (磁场)and atmosphere. But we are not fully protected from what scientists call Coronal Mass Ejections(“日冕物质抛射”). These are strong storms that can happen on the sun's surface.

Thomas Berger is the director of the Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. He says these ejections are much more dangerous than solar particles. He says the Coronal Mass Ejections are extremely large magnetic clouds that are expelled from the sun at extremely high speeds. He says when they affect Earth, it is like a hurricane affecting Earth in terms of space weather.

Violent space weather can make electric systems stop working. It can block satellite signals to Earth. It can disturb radio signals and air travel.

Mr. Berger says we cannot stop the ejections from affecting us, but we can prepare for them if we know when they will happen. When the DSCOVR satellite records an ejection, it will release a warning. Mr. Berger says the warning will provide NOAA about 15 to 60 minutes to let people know that a very strong storm is coming in to the Earth. He says that is enough time for power grid operators to take protective action. He says it is also enough time for workers to place satellites on a safe operating method if necessary.


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