When energetic particles from powerful solar storms impact Earth’s magnetic field, the results can be explosive. NASA’s THEMIS and ARTEMIS spacecraft measured the massive amount of energy released during one such substorm. “The amount of power converted was comparable to the electric power generation from all power plants on Earth — and it went on for over 30 minutes,” said Professor Vassilis Angelopoulos, the principal investigator for the mission. “The amount of energy released was equivalent to a 7.1 Richter-scale earthquake.” Their results, published in a recent paper in the journal science, may help scientists better understand the cause of these space weather events and the resulting hazards to satellites in orbit.
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