There are a LOT of satellites and probes up in space!
It’s thought that there are about 2,000 orbiting the planet – but only 1,300 are operational – the rest are just space junk!
Operational satellites play vital roles – from observing the Earth and helping navigation, to providing communication… And ALL of them get a lot of solar wind up there!
Outside the Earth’s magnetic field there’s no protection against those high energy waves of radiation from the Sun.
Fortunately, there are scientists who help satellite owners keep an eye on the conditions up here! They even produce forecasts!
STEREO stands for Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory.
STEREO and its twin were launched in 2006 in orbits around the Sun in such a way that they are able to take readings from the far side.
What equipment is in STEREO?
One piece of equipment has five cameras!
It sounds very confusing but this part of the satellite looks at coronal mass ejections and assess how impactful they might be to Earth!
That part is called the Sun-Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation! Phew, that’s a long name!
A different part of the satellite studies energetic particles! It also makes 3D pictures of solar wind!
There are lots of other pieces of equipment on this pair of STEREO satellites. Our favourite might be a radio! The Interplanetary Radio Burst Tracker studies radio disturbances.
It can’t listen to Fun Kids on it, but instead the radio listens for anything odd that might be travelling from the Sun to Earth!
If you want to find out more about space weather, you should check out Deep Space High: Intergalactic Weather Watch! Sam, Stats, and Quark are all taught about solar flares, cosmic rays, coronal mass ejections and more!
Deep Space High: Kids Guide to Space
The podcast all about space - from astronaut training to the planets in the Solar System!