​The Secret Allies Keeping Our Planet Safe From Space Invaders

by | Feb 18, 2015 | Cool Stuff

There are all kinds of dangerous, deadly entities trying to invade planet earth every minute of every day.

No, we aren’t talking about aliens. The invaders in question include radioactive rays emitted by the sun and other stars in our galaxy, space debris, other dangerous elements in outer space.

These invaders are abundant in outer space… so why and how are we shielded from them? Believe it or not, our Earth is actually equipped with a complex, two-part system of defense.



The molten iron core at the heart of our planet is the command center of our magnetic sphere. This rotating liquid metal powers Earth’s magnetosphere, protecting us from the harmful rays surging though space. The magnetosphere extents far beyond the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere into space. This magnetic shield is able to deflect x-rays, gamma rays, ultraviolet radiation, and plasma released by the sun after solar flares. The magnetosphere is so effective in deflecting these harmful rays that x-ray and gamma ray observatories are built in space because we can’t see them from the ground. If a human were exposed to these harmful rays, these high-speed molecules would tear through human DNA molecules, causing a variety of cancers and other diseases.



Our Earth’s atmosphere serves as backup support in protecting us from harmful radiation from space. Instead of blocking harmful radiation the way the magnetosphere does, our atmosphere actually absorbs any leftover harmful waves, which mainly ultraviolet rays from our sun.

Not only does the atmosphere protect us from harmful rays, it also acts as a shield against space debris. When meteoroids enter the atmosphere, they encounter friction from the air, causing most debris to break apart before it falls to Earth.

Another major job the atmosphere has is to shield us from the vacuum in outer space. Why is the vacuum such a problem? There is no air. Because there is no pressure, an organic matter dissolves instantly. Heat cannot exist in a vacuum, so outer space is freezing cold. All of these elements combined make outer space very dangerous to life on our planet. Earth’s atmosphere keeps the air and the heat in, and the vacuum out.



Weather balloon projects at StratoStar enable classrooms to travel to the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere and see Earth’s defense system firsthand. If you’d like to learn more about our planet’s atmosphere, a project with StratoStar might just be the experiment you’ve been waiting for.