If you're planning a trip, it's worth planning ahead. First, you should check the weather forecast. The same is true of astronauts, and with so many upcoming missions, NASA is now looking ahead to see what the space weather forecast looks like for the coming decade, and things seem to be going quite well.
Using the latest solar activity data and a new prediction formula for forecasting sunshine peaks and valleys, NASA expects us to experience the quietest decade of the last two centuries and now have the perfect time for manned missions into other worlds to plan.
As NASA explains in a recent blog entry, our star's solar cycles last for about 11 years, with periods of increased activity predictably occurring. During high-active periods, sunspots occur more frequently and coronal mass ejections eject charged particles into space.
NASA likes to avoid such sunshine as it would expose astronauts to a large amount of radiation from our star. Here on Earth, the planet's magnetic field acts like a shield, but astronauts flying into space do not have the same protection.
From decades of solar activity data and estimates, NASA researchers developed what they consider more accurate way to predict the ebb and flow of our star. The method has already been tested to predict the past decade of space weather using existing data, and NASA has "performed well".
It is well known that the Sun is likely to behave on its own while NASA and other groups perform some of their most advanced missions will not necessarily facilitate exploration, but at least not complicate it.