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Welcome to Wednesday


October 29, 2014
The Effect on Earth

How are humans protected from solar radiation?

The sun gives off rays of light that we can see. There is a range of wavelengths that is visible to the human eye. These wavelengths represent a small part of the full spectrum of light.

A spectrum of electromagnetic wave from x-ray to radio wavesVery short light waves that you may have heard of are called x-rays. You may have also heard of something called ultraviolet radiation. Ultraviolet rays are damaging to life forms, and X-rays are even more dangerous in great amounts. The sun gives off many rays of light that we cannot see that could potentially harm us. So why are we still alive? The earth's atmosphere prevents most UV and X-rays from reaching earth.

 

An image of an animal at high altitude   Still, animals and people who live at high altitudes where the earth's atmosphere is thinner are vulnerable to the damaging effects of the sun.


A computer generated image of the Sun and the Earth with Earth's magnetic fields shownThe earth's magnetic field deflects particles emitted by the sun. But when astronauts and satellites are launched into space beyond the earth's protective barriers, they are vulnerable to to many types of rays and particles emitted by the sun during solar events. So scientists are studying the sun in order to be able to predict when changes in the sun might occur, and perhaps even how to counter their effects.