NASA has declassified Cold War documents that reveal nuclear testing during the Cold War era affected the weather in space.The documents outline radiation protection methods for astronauts and satellites.
The tumultuous Cold War and its nuclear arms race had more far-reaching effects than people previously knew.The recently declassified documents describe extreme changes to the environment in space near Earth.
NASA researchers are now benefitting from the documents that have been declassified because they are able to understand the effects of Cold War-era nuclear testing more thoroughly and adjust accordingly.The records span the years 1958 to 1962.
Space weather consists of the planet's surrounding electromagnetic environment.This includes a protective magnetic field called the magnetosphere, which is generated by the rotation of the Earth's core.
Solar activity and other external factors ordinarily drive space weather, but extreme effects of nuclear tests were detected 250 miles above the Earth's crust.
The Earth's magnetosphere is important because it deflects most the solar wind, which is really millions of high-energy particles radiated by the sun.The solar wind would affect satellites otherwise because it would damage electronics, disrupting navigation and communication signals.Cold War nuclear tests caused similar effects, scientists say.