NASA says Solar Cycle 25 has begun

The sun goes through cycles where it has more or less activity, and NASA has now confirmed that Solar Cycle 25 has begun. Experts from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discussed analysis and predictions about the new solar cycle during a media event on Tuesday of this week. Among the information shared during the event was how the coming upswing in space weather impacts life on Earth, technology, and astronauts in space.NASA says that the solar minimum occurred in December 2019, marking the start of a new solar cycle. Since the Sun is highly variable, it can take months after the fact to declare that an event has occurred. Sunspots are used to track solar cycle progress with NASA pointing out that the dark blotches on the sun are associated with solar activity.

NASA says as we emerge from the solar minimum an approach Solar Cycle 25's maximum, it's important to remember that solar activity never stops. NOAA provides space weather prediction and satellites to monitor space weather in real-time. Space weather predictions are critical for satellites, astronauts on the ISS, and supporting the Artemis program and astronauts.

Serving the space environment is the first critical step to understanding and mitigating exposure to space radiation for astronauts. Two science investigations will be conducted from the Gateway to study space weather and monitor the radiation environment in lunar orbit. Scientists are also working on predictive models so they can one-day forecast space weather similarly to how meteorologists forecast weather on Earth.

With Solar Cycle 25 here and the solar minimum behind us, the sun's activity will ramp up toward the next predicted maximum in July 2025. Solar Cycle 25 is expected to be as strong as the last solar cycle, which was below-average but not without risk.