Solar wind pushes atmospheric breathing

New analyses of satellite data show that cycles of expansion and contraction are tied to changes in the solar wind

By Sid Perkins, 13:01 PM December 16, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO — Analyses of satellite data reveal that Earth’s atmosphere expands and contracts in response to short-term variations in the solar wind. Understanding this previously unrecognized phenomenon and how it affects objects traveling in low-Earth orbits will enable scientists to better track satellites, and to track the space junk that threatens them.

Besides the more than 800 satellites in low-Earth orbit, more than 17,000 pieces of space junk also circle the planet, reported Jeff...

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