NASA releases transfixing simulation of space weather leading up to the historic Pluto flyby
A team of scientistsfrom NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has released a revised modelof the space environment prevailing throughout the solar system inthe months leading up to New Horizons historic pass of the dwarfplanet Pluto.
Contrary to popularopinion, space is far from empty. The environment between the planetsthat make up our solar system is in fact permeated by the embeddedmagnetic fields carried along by the steady flow of particlesemanating from our Sun, known as the solar wind, and dramaticoutbursts in the form of coronal mass ejections (CMEs).
By better understandingthis complex, and often dangerous environment, we can hopefully learnhow to better protect future spacecraft and human beings from therisks posed by space travel.
The basis for the newsimulation is taken from the Enlil model, which, named after theSumerian god of wind, is one of the numerous weather models being putto the test as part of NASA's New Horizons Flyby Modelling Challenge.
The visualization displays three key variables. Gradients of redrepresent temperature variation, green depicts the density of thesolar wind, while blue represents the pressure gradient. Other colors are alsoevident in the model, resulting from interactions between the threeprimary variables. The explanation for these color variations can befound in the tricolour diagram above.
The video below shows the mesmerizing Enlil model of space weather between January to July 2015.