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What is the WSA-ENLIL Model?

Click play below to view the video:

(download this video in .mov: 480p | 720p | 1080p) (also available in Spanish)

The WSA-ENLIL model is essential for modeling and predicting the effects of solar winds and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) on human instruments. Solar winds are streams of charged particles that flow constantly from the sun. They form a spiral shape coming off the sun due to the sun’s rotation. Solar winds can fluctuate from ambient to strong, and they can affect human instruments around Earth and on other planets if the timing and intensity are right. CMEs are fast, strong eruptions of material from the Sun that can reach Earth in three or four days. These eruptions are not always Earth-directed, but they do travel to the farthest reaches of the heliosphere. CMEs also cause geomagnetic storms on Earth, which result in aurora and can also interfere with aviation technology, GPS systems, power grids, and other technology.

The WSA-ENLIL model allows scientists to predict what impacts certain solar wind and CME levels can have throughout the inner planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars). Scientists can use the model to simulate scenarios in which certain satellites and/or planets are affected by solar winds and CMEs. Also, the model can be use to determine the reaches of an Earth-directed CME to understand what impacts the CME could possibly have. The model is very important in preparing for any type of space weather scenario.

The model is named after Wang-Sheeley-Arge (WSA), three important scientists in space weather, and the Sumerian god of winds and storms (ENLIL). The WSA-ENLIL model can give us a lot of information, such as velocity, density, and dynamic pressure of solar winds and CMEs. The model is available to the public through the Integrated Space Weather Analysis System (iSWA) from the Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC). To access the iSWA layout seen in the video, follow this link.
--Caitlin Bailey, NASA GSFC summer intern

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Video Credits:
Created, written, and narrated by Caitlin Bailey
Credits: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab, NASA/SDO, NASA/STEREO/SECCHI, SOHO/ESA&NASA, Dusan Odstrcil (ENLIL model developer), Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC), Integrated Space Weather Analysis system (iSWA), helioviewer.org, Victor Sand.
Music: David Rothschild
Special thanks to: AAAS, Michael Randazzo.