NASA and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) have confirmed that our Sun has entered a new Solar cycle starting from December 2019. This is the time when Sun enters the solar minimum (the period between cycles when the Sun is least active). This is the 25th Solar Cycle since scientists started observing these cycles and it took nearly 10 months to calculate and confirm the minimum due to Sun’s variability.
Sun goes into a new Solar Cycle every 11 years. Scientists use sunspots as markers to track the progress of these solar cycles. During solar minimum, the magnetic activity on the Sun drops significantly causing the least number of sunspots.
Changes in the solar cycle affect solar weather which can have wide range effects on our planet. Radio communication technologies are affected heavily due to these changes, astronauts need additional safety from the dangerous amounts of radiation ejecting from the Sun, space weather goes through some major changes.
The Sun’s activity is predicted to start increasing halfway through the cycle reaching its maximum at around July 2025 – when there will be a sharp rise in the number of sunspots.
“Just because it’s a below-average solar cycle, doesn’t mean there is no risk of extreme space weather,” says Doug Biesecker, a solar physicist at NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.
NASA and NOAA are working together on ‘National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan’ which studies the consequences of the new Solar Cycle on earth and space weather. This program aims at improving the prediction of space weather as they do on the Earth.
“There is no bad weather, just bad preparation. Space weather is what it is our job is to prepare,” said Jake Bleacher, chief scientist for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.
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