Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

Satellites, scientists track storm from Sun to surface


  • Michael Carlowicz


On January 6, the Sun spat a coronal mass ejection (CME) into the solar wind and toward Earth; by January 10, a cloud of charged particles buffeted the face of the planet. It was, by several accounts, a run-of-the-mill space weather event. But the scientific work surrounding the storm was anything but run-of-the-mill.

For the first time, space physicists observed and recorded a space weather event from start to finish, from solar surface to earthly impact. Researchers are calling it the first true success story of the four-year-old International Solar Terrestrial Physics program (ISTP), which includes NASA's WIND and POLAR spacecraft; the joint Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) mission of NASA and the European Space Agency; the joint Geotail mission of NASA and Japan's Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science; and Russia's Interball satellites.