Do sun surface temperatures give us all the energy we need?

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The sun surface temperatures create a wide range of electromagnetic sunlight wavelengths; some are harmful, some aren't.

The Sun plays a crucial role in our daily lives and has a significant impact on our planet, so we should care about it.  Here's why people should be interested in the Sun:

Life on Earth depends on the Sun for energy.  Photosynthesis produces oxygen and food when plants get enough light and heat.  Our planet can't survive without the Sun. Students need to understand that.

Weather and climate are driven by the Sun's energy.  We learn about seasons, temperature variations, wind patterns, and the water cycle by understanding how the Sun's energy interacts with Earth's atmosphere.  Understanding weather forecasts and climate change requires this knowledge.

Solar energy is abundant and seemingly renewable.  We can use the Sun's energy to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and mitigate climate change by learning about solar power.

- Space Exploration: Studying the Sun can spark an interest in space exploration.  Examining the Sun's properties and behavior can help us learn more about other stars, galaxies, and the universe.  Space missions, astronomy, and future exploration can be inspired by it.

- Solar Phenomena: The Sun exhibits fascinating phenomena that can be enthralling to anybody.  Solar eclipses, sunspots, solar flares, and auroras can spark an interest in astronomy.

Radiant heat – what is the temperature of the sun?

What's the sun's temperature?  At the surface, it's about 10000°F, over 5000°C, but above and below the surface, it's much hotter.  It's a few million degrees Celsius in the corona and 15 million at the core of our big hot sun.

We've got our own star.  It's the sun.  Our energy on earth comes from that ball of fire.

These temperatures sound pretty hot, but how do they compare to other stars?  The surface temperature of large red stars in the main sequence can be less than 3000°C, while extremely hot blue stars can be over 30,000°C.

Solar radiation entering the earth's atmosphere

How much sunlight reaches the earth's surface?  Solar energy is officially 1370 watts per square metre.  On the way down to earth, some of that energy got lost in the atmosphere.  It leaves us only about 1000 watts per square meter.

With the sun directly overhead and no clouds.  The earth's surface temperature rises quickly when the sun shines strongly like that.  A direct overhead sun only happens once a day in tropical latitudes, and most of the earth gets less energy than that.

Multiply 1000 W/m2 by the cosine of the angle from the horizon to the sun.  In other words, it's about half the intensity (W/m2) of sunlight coming in from 30° above the horizon, which is typical for evenings and early mornings.

Actually, it's a little less than that.  Why? Due to its higher angle of incidence, incoming sunlight travels a longer path through more air.  Longer trips through the atmosphere attenuate more incoming energy.

What causes the sun surface temperatures to reach such high levels?

Where does that energy come from?  Nuclear fusion.  Einstein said E=mc2 and the sun loses over 4 million tonnes every second.  Everything gets converted to outgoing energy.  Nearly 400 million million million million watts.

Wow, that's a big power plant.  We get those nice toasty temperatures from there.  It's no wonder we're warming up.

The sun and Weather Satellites:  Onboard batteries and solar panels power weather satellites.  Sunlight is converted into electricity by these panels, then stored in batteries for use when the satellite isn't in direct sunlight.

Sunlight is converted into electricity by solar panels, then stored in batteries for use when the satellite isn't in direct sunlight, and of course the panels generate more electricity the more sunlight they get.

The solar cells on weather satellites are usually made of silicon or other semiconductor materials.  Sunlight is used to generate electricity to power the satellite's various systems and instruments, including imaging sensors, communication systems, and data processing units.

Satellites rely on their onboard batteries for power when they are out of the sunlight, like when they pass through Earth's shadow at nighttime or when they reach certain orbital positions.  The batteries get charged during daylight hours, when the panels produce excess electricity, and the stored energy powers the satellite when there's no sunlight.

Using solar power, weather satellites can gather and transmit weather data and imagery for extended periods.  This power system enables these satellites to monitor and study Earth's weather patterns and phenomena from space with little maintenance.

Our goal on this page is to inspire young students to learn more about the Sun and its energy, so they'll understand their place in the solar system, appreciate the natural world around them, and develop a sense of wonder.

Go back from Sun Surface Temperatures to the Image Satellite Weather web page.

Weather Satellite Information


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Did you know that weather satellites are driven by the temperature of the sun's surface

What does the sun's surface temperature have to do with our weather satellites?

Do you have concerns about air pollution in your area??

Perhaps modelling air pollution will provide the answers to your question.

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Thank you to my research and writing assistants, ChatGPT and WordTune, as well as Wombo and others for the images.

GPT-4, OpenAI's large-scale language generation model, helped generate this text.  As soon as draft language is generated, the author reviews, edits, and revises it to their own liking and is responsible for the content.