Magnetic levels in the Earth’s atmosphere are beginning to decrease, putting airline travellers and astronauts into greater contact with cosmic rays, the International Business Times reports.Based on data from NASA, it appears that weaker solar magnetic fields will repel less radiation from outer space. At the same time, the sun is nearing a peak in particle levels, which also pose radiation dangers.
Radiation will be most noticeable for flights crossing the poles, and researcher Michael Lockwood told Space.com that habitual, lifelong fliers might want to consider more frequent health checks.
The upcoming change in magnetism will also coincide with a rise in hazardous space weather, including sunspots and solar storms.
Most flights are still harmless though. According to the International Business Times, “At 30,000 to 40,000 feet, the typical altitude of a jetliner, exposure on a typical flight is still considered safe—less than a chest X-ray.”
Cosmic radiation has played a constant role in the Earth’s environment, affecting a 62-million-year pattern of fluctuations in biodiversity. However, the next major instance of massive cosmic activity is another 10 million years off.
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