@OscarLanzi's interesting answer and my comment there led me to read Wikipedia's article Space weather.

The article exclusively seems to only talk about effects in Earth's upper atmosphere; the only instance "deep space" in that article is in the name of DSCOVR:

The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite is a NOAA Earth observation and space weather satellite that launched in February 2015. Among its features is advance warning of coronal mass ejections.

It seems that the article discusses CMEs and other solar phenomena and their relationship to space weather, but the actual "weather" happens in the Earth's vicinity, as a result.

Question: Can the term "space weather" refer to the environment in deep space, or is it only in reference to Earth's (or another planet's) upper atmosphere?

If it can, please cite one or two authoritative examples, thanks!

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    $\begingroup$ i.pinimg.com/originals/f4/a0/b9/… $\endgroup$ Mar 12, 2019 at 13:38
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble literally lolled, took me a minute to figure out what I was looking at ;-) $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 12, 2019 at 13:40
  • $\begingroup$ Chance of light meteor showers today in the Andromeda galaxy... $\endgroup$ Mar 27, 2019 at 19:24

3 Answers 3


Yes, "space weather" can be applied to any region outside of any planet or atmosphere, and outside the sun. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin. (NOAA) maintains a Space Weather Prediction Center where you can read about the various conditions they monitor. These include such things as solar wind speed, magnetic field strength and direction, solar x-ray flux, coronal mass ejection (CME) intensities, etc.

The NOAA site concentrates on the near-Earth region, but not exclusively. NASA spacecraft that are nowhere near Earth need to know some of these things sometimes, such as the impending arrival of a CME shock front.

There haven't been many opportunities to monitor space weather outside of the heliosphere, but the two Voyager spacecraft are doing that right now.

Example from here of space weather beyond Earth.

example of space weather beyond Earth

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer! I've added a concrete example, hope you don't mind. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Mar 27, 2019 at 3:49

Can the term "space weather" refer to the environment in deep space, or is it only in reference to Earth's (or another planet's) upper atmosphere?

Just a quick addition to the already present answers. The term space weather has two primary connotations, at the moment. One is focused on forecasting, like atmospheric weather phenomena, and that is primarily driven by NOAA efforts. The other is focused on understanding the physics behind the phenomena (e.g., see Space Weather Journal), which is primarily driven by NASA. Note that both sides of this have a lot of support from both the military and commercial sectors, as both have trillions of dollars of space assets to protect.

So while the primary focus/driver of all of this is, yes, Earth-centered, the research side of things does extend beyond just Earth (e.g., people have looked at space weather-related phenomena at Saturn, Jupiter, etc.).



French BM, Heiken G, Vaniman D, Schmitt J. Lunar sourcebook: A user's guide to the Moon. CUP Archive; 1991 Apr 26.

Clark BE, Hapke B, Pieters C, Britt D. Asteroid space weathering and regolith evolution. Asteroids III. 2002 Mar;585.

Hapke B. Space weathering from Mercury to the asteroid belt. Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. 2001 May 25;106(E5):10039-73.

Naser MZ, Chehab AI. Materials and design concepts for space-resilient structures. Progress in Aerospace Sciences. 2018 Mar 23.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer. Weather and weathering are related, but different words and concepts. If you can find the term "space weather" applied to the Moon, asteroid, or other space environment in some of those references I wonder if you could add a quote or two? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 10, 2019 at 13:27

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