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    Longer-lasting coronal holes and space junk during solar minimum

    By Doris Elin Salazar
    July 10, 2017, 3:18:16 PM EDT

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    solar min sunspots

    This side-by-side view shows sunspots on the sun on Feb. 27, 2014, (left) and the sunspot-less day of March 20, 2017, as seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. Credit: Joy Ng/NASA's GSFC/SDO

    The sun protects humanity from exposure to cosmic rays and keeps space junk at bay, but that protection will be reduced in 2019 as the sun enters its solar minimum, according to a new NASA video.

    Change is a part of most systems in the universe, and Earth's sun is no exception. In a video from the Science @NASA series, Dean Pesnell of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland discusses how the sun experiences regular changes to its surface. In 2019, the sun will reach its solar minimum, the time when it has its lowest number of sunspots. The number of these blisters on the sun's surface will decrease until 2019 to 2020. After that, the sun will begin approaching the other side of its 11-year activity cycle, solar maximum.

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