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Solar and Space Physics

4. Space Weather

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About this Lecture


In this mini-lecture, we discuss how space weather occurs and the impacts it has on Earth. In particular, we consider: (i) an animation of an explosion from the Sun hitting Earth, illustrating how Earth’s magnetic field acts as a sort of ‘space umbrella’ that protects us; (ii) collisions of the Sun’s and the Earth’s magnetic fields, which release energy and particles into the Earth’s atmosphere, causing it to light up (the aurora borealis); (iii) the impacts of space weather on astronauts, satellites, planes, radio towers, and more; and (iv) how migratory animals use the Earth’s magnetic field.


In this course, Professor Louise Harra (ETH Zürich) explores solar and space physics. In the first mini-lecture, we introduce the layers of the Sun and the nuclear reactions that take place within it. In the second mini-lecture, we discuss the magnetic properties of the Sun, including sunspots and solar flares. In the third mini-lecture, we introduce the basic equations that describe orbiting objects and consider some of the spacecrafts orbiting our Sun, such as NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter. The fourth mini-lecture turns towards space weather as we discuss interactions of the Sun’s and Earth’s magnetic fields, the aurora borealis, and impacts of space weather on Earth. In the fifth mini-lecture, we discuss how space exploration can benefit the technologies we use on Earth. Finally, in the sixth mini-lecture, we consider the wide range of careers in science and space, and how to get involved.


Louise Harra is an affiliated Professor at ETH Zürich in addition to being the director of the Physikalisch-​Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos/World Radiation Center (PMOD/WRC) in Davos, Switzerland. The institute is a world-leader in solar irradiance and ozone measurements, and builds ground-based and space-based instruments. Before joining PMOD/WRC, Professor Harra worked as a UK project scientist for the solar-B EUV Imaging Spectrometer (EIS), which was launched in 2006, after which she took over as principal investigator of the project until 2019. She is currently a co-principal investigator on the EUV Imager (EUI) and SPICE instruments onboard the ESA Solar Orbiter mission, as well as a co-investigator on the NASA IRIS mission. Professor Harra’s research interests are in solar physics, particularly solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and solar wind formation.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Harra, L. (2022, February 11). Solar and Space Physics - Space Weather [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Harra, L. "Solar and Space Physics – Space Weather." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Feb 2022,

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