Exploring this Job
A great way to learn more about space meteorology is to participate in an internship program or get a summer or part-time job with a meteorology company, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or the National Weather Service. Ask your school's career services office for assistance with finding internship and job opportunities. Interviewing a space meteorologist is another way to have your questions about the profession answered directly by someone in the know. Prepare a list of questions in advance, such as what their educational background is, how they got started, and what a typical (or nontypical) day on the job is like.
Learn more about space meteorologists by following them on social media and reading their Web sites. For example, visit the Space Weather Woman's site for articles and to listen to podcasts about space weather: https://www.spaceweatherwoman.com. Also keep up with space news and developments by regularly visiting NASA's Web site, https://www.nasa.gov, and sites such as Space News, https://spacenews.com.
Space meteorologists research and analyze space weather because it can affect the climate and weather on Earth. They also study space weather because it can have an impact on communications systems. How does this happen? As described by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, "the sun's constant outflow of solar wind fills space with a thin and tenuous wash of particles, magnetic fields, and plasma. This solar wind, along with other solar events like giant explosions called coronal mass ejections, influences the very nature of space and can interact with the magnetic systems of Earth and other worlds. Such effects also change the radiation environment through which our spacecraft—and one day, our astronauts headed to the Moon and to Mars—travel. Such space weather can interfere with satellite electronics, communications and GPS [Global Positioning System] signals, and even—when extreme—utility grids on Earth." This is why organizations such as NASA have space meteorologists working in the research division of space weather programs, "helping to better understand the causes and effects of space weather."
Space meteorologists have tasks similar to those of other types of meteorologists, with the exception being they study and develop forecasts for the weather in space. And space weather can be as "mild as a rainstorm or as wild as a hurricane," as one professional space meteorologist put it. Space meteorologists gather and study data on space weather and events, using satellites, radar, upper air stations, global positioning systems, and high-speed computers. They study maps, reports, charts, and photographs to better understand space weather conditions. They use computer models and apply their knowledge of space physics, climate theory, and mathematics in their work to create forecasts for space weather and events. Space meteorologists work closely with other space meteorologists and atmospheric scientists, sharing their interpretations and findings.
Space meteorologists also collaborate with other meteorological agencies and researchers about the interpretation and use of space weather predictions in relation to weather forecasts and events on Earth. They analyze historical space weather data, to determine trends and predict future space weather as well as the impact on the climate. Space meteorologists also study space weather for predictions about ozone depletion, pollution control, and global warming.