SCIENTISTS say people travelling on aeroplanes and spacecraft could be exposed to radiation as the sun's magnetic field changes.
Professor of Space Environment Physics at the University of Reading, Mike Lockwood, claims dramatic shifts in the sun’s natural cycle are causing more dangerous particles to reach Earth.
The sun’s "grand solar maximum" is expected to move to lower average activity over the next few decades to a "grand solar minimum". Throughout this process, there is greater flux of dangerous particles generated by the sun, heading for Earth.
“Analysis shows that the risk of the space-weather effects is considerably enhanced over the next century compared with the space age thus far,” Professor Lockwood says.
The Earth’s magnetic field is expected to protect most of us from harm, but the professor says because the last time changes of this sort took place was in the 1700s, the effects on aviation are unknown.