UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics


Planetary Space Weather

1 December 2014

In an article just published in Astronomy and Astrophysics Reviews, Jean Lilensten (IPAG, Grenoble), Andrew Coates (UCL-MSSL) and co-authors discuss the emergence of a new interdisciplinary topic

With the move to operational space weather services, such as at the Met office in Exeter, space weather has become a mature discipline for the terrestrial space environment. With increasing efforts in space exploration, it is becoming more and more necessary to understand and predict the space environments of bodies other than Earth. This is the background for an emerging aspect of the space weather discipline: planetary space weather. The article explores what characterizes planetary space weather, using examples from throughout the solar system. It considers energy sources and timescales, the characteristics of solar system objects and their interaction processes. It discusses several space weather-driven interactions including the effects on planetary radiation belts, atmospheric escape, habitability and effects on space systems. Future considerations are also discussed. The authors conclude that planetary space weather will be of increasing importance for future planetary missions as exploration takes more of our robots, and perhaps ourselves, out into the solar system. Here is the interplanetary space weather forecast - radiation storms may be imminent - use magnetic fields for shelter.