Storms in space: A fictionalized account of “The Big One”



This article is intended to illustrate, for a general audience, how solar, interplanetary, and magnetospheric physics are giving birth to the concept of “space weather,” and to remind those of us who do space physics that the fruits of our labors may soon have practical applications that will touch many lives.

The scene is a darkened spacecraft operations control room. Across one wall are TV monitors displaying live pictures. The first monitor carries the Super Bowl. The others display a soap opera, a weather channel, and a Spanish language commentator. Only the sound from the Super Bowl monitor can be heard. The panel behind a long console desk has more monitors; this time containing tables and graphs with data on the status of seven satellites. The night shift operations crew is gathered around the Super Bowl monitor.