The Met Office, UK’s national weather service, is hoping to expand its range well beyond Britain or even Earth for that matter. The Met Office and a team from the University of Exeter have announced that they will begin forecasting weather on both the Earth’s thermosphere (a layer of atmosphere between 90 and 600 KMS above the surface) and on planets outside our solar system. The so called ‘space weather’ is important to everything from aviation to GPS and radio use, claims DR. David Jackson of the Met Office.
However, research on the exoplanets will be more experimental in nature. Exeter researchers have said that they are interested in ascertaining how winds distribute heat around the plants, which are often very close to the sun. Because of this proximity, the heat differential between the ‘day’ and ‘night’ sides of the plants create winds up to kilometers a second to blow around them. This could actually inflate the atmosphere of the exoplanets, making them look larger than they actually are. Other research hopes to be able to see if life exists on other planets or not.
Although exoplanets work very differently when compared to earth, the Met Office’s Unified Model should be able to forecast atmospheric conditions on them effectively once they’re figured out. “The underlying physics of planets is remarkably similar,” says astrophysicist David Acreman, “even if it’s the Earth or a hot Jupiter.”