July 21, 2010
Dark Matter May Be Lurking at the Heart of the Sun
Dark matter is thought to make up about 80 percent of all matter in the universe.
Dark matter is expected to form a halo around our galaxy, and since the Sun is in
motion around the galaxy, some of the dark matter particles
may collide with the elements in the Sun and become gravitationally
captured by the Sun. This could lead to a build up of dark
matter particles at the center of the Sun, according to new
ews source: sciencedaily.com
July 16, 2010
Space Weather Turns into an International Problem
Representatives from more than 25 of the world's most technologically-advanced
nations have gathered in Germany today to hear about a problem that may be too big for any one country to handle alone:
News source: science.nasa.gov
July 15, 2010
A Puzzling Collapse of Earth's Thermosphere
The thermosphere is a layer of the Earth's
upper atmosphere ranging in altitude from 90 km to 600+ km.
This is where much of the solar ultraviolet radiation is absorbed,
causing ionization. It is also where auroras occur, and where
most spacecraft orbit the Earth. During the
deep solar minimum of 2008-09, there
was a sharper-than-expected collapse of Earth's thermosphere.
The thermosphere always cools and contracts when solar activity
is low. In this case, however, the magnitude of the collapse
was two to three times greater than low solar activity alone
News source: science.nasa.gov
July 9, 2010
South Pacific Eclipse
On Sunday, July 11th, the new Moon will
pass directly in front of the Sun, producing a total eclipse
over the South Pacific. The path of totality stretches across
more than a thousand miles of ocean, making landfall in the
Cook Islands at around 17:00 Universal Time (07:00 local time),
then passing over Easter Island, a number of French Polynesian
atolls, and the southern tip of South America. The path of
totality ends just after reaching southern Chile and Argentina.
The Moon's penumbral shadow produces a partial eclipse visible
from a much larger region covering the South Pacific and southern
News source:eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov, science.nasa.gov
Image Credit: Dr. Andrew Sinclair; source: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov.
July 1 ,
NASA Retires TRACE Spacecraft After
Highly Successful Mission
After a successful 12-year mission, NASA's
And Coronal Explorer (TRACE) conducted its final
of the Sun on June 21.
Aurora Australis Observed from the
International Space Station
This striking aurora image was taken on May 29, 2010
during a geomagnetic storm that was most likely caused by a coronal
mass ejection from the Sun on May 24.
The ISS was located over the Southern Indian Ocean at an altitude
of 350 kilometers (220 miles) when the image was taken.
Image Credit: ISS/NASA
June 14, 2010
GOES-15 Solar X-Ray Imager's
Miraculous First Light
GOES-15 launched on March 4, 2010 from Cape
On June 3, the GOES-15 Solar X-Ray Imager (SXI)
came on-line. Scientists and engineers had subjected
a series of long duration tests and now believe to
instrument functionality. Several test solar images
subsequently taken successfully.
Image Credit: NASA/NOAA/LockheedMartin
June 4, 2010
As the Sun Awakens, NASA Keeps a
Wary Eye on Space Weather
The Sun is slowly becoming more active, and in the
years we expect to see much higher levels of solar
At the same time, our technological society has
an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. A
solar storm could cause enormous economic damage by
down power grids, GPS navigation, air travel,
and emergency radio communications. A major goal of
solar activity is to enable us to predict, prepare
mitigate potentially devastating space
Image Credit: NASA.
On May 29th, the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF)
tilted south and opened a crack in Earth's magnetosphere. Solar wind
poured in and fueled a G1-class geomagnetic storm.
Northern Lights were sighted as far south as Wisconsin.
Engineers Diagnosing Voyager 2 Data
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes were launched
and their original goals were to explore Jupiter and
They are still returning data 33 years later, on
out of the solar system. The two spacecraft are now
distant human-made objects, out at the edge of the
heliosphere, the bubble the Sun creates around the
system. Voyager 1 is expected to leave our solar
enter interstellar space in the next five years or
Voyager 2 is to enter interstellar space shortly
On April 22, changes appeared in the return of the science data
packets from Voyager 2. Mission team members
have been working to troubleshoot and resume the regular flow of
data. (It takes nearly 13 hours for signals to
reach the spacecraft.) On May 17 it was reported that a flip of a bit
in the memory of an onboard computer appears
to have been responsibe; a value in a single memory location was
changed from a 0 to a 1. Engineers are planning to
reset the bit to its normal state on Wednesday, May 19.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
SDO Observes Massive Solar Eruption
On April 19th, NASA's new Solar Dynamics Observatory
spacecraft has recorded one of the largest solar
in recent years. The movie also shows 'coronal rain'
streams of plasma falling back to the surface of the
making bright splashes where they hit the surface.
Image Credit: SDO/AIA.
First Light for the Solar Dynamics
SDO is the first mission of NASA's Living with a Star (LWS)
program. Its goal is to help us understand the Sun as a magnetic
variable star and to measure
its impact on life and society on Earth.
Launched on February 11th from Cape Canaveral, the observatory has
spent the past two months moving into a geosynchronous
orbit and activating its instruments. As soon as SDO's telescope
doors opened, the spacecraft began beaming back scenes
so beautiful and puzzlingly complex that even seasoned observers
Image Credit: NASA.
ACE and STEREO Data Build Space
Despite the current solar minium, high pressure pulses of solar
wind have been keeping the space weather unpredictable.
To date, predictions when these pulses will arrive at planets have
been flawed, in that observations
of the features close to the Sun underestimate the speed that
they are moving by the time they cross Earth's orbit. Using in-situ
measurements from the ACE and
STEREO satellites, scientists were able to provide more accurate
estimates of when blasts of solar wind will reach Earth, Venus and Mars.
Early Earth May Have Absorbed More
Researchers have long wondered why water on Earth
frozen during the early days of the planet, when the
only 70 to 75 percent as much energy as it does
theorize that high levels of greenhouse gases in the
the same mechanism cited in global warming today,
But new research involving Stanford scientists has a
explanation: The oceans, much larger than today,
enough heat from the sun to avoid turning into ice.
News source: news.stanford.edu
The Solar 'Conveyor Belt' Speeds Up
The Great Conveyor Belt is a massive circulating
hot plasma within the Sun. It has two branches,
south, each taking about 40 years to complete one
Data from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
show that the top of the Conveyor Belt has been
record-high speeds for the past five years.
the turning of the belt controls the sunspot cycle,
increase in speed could explain the unusually deep
The ISWA Space Weather Science Tool
ISWA is NASA's new web-based space weather analysis
system that combines forecasts based on space weather models and
concurrent space environment information. The intention is to provide a
comprehensive interface for general space weather-related information,
with data on past and current space weather events. Science and space
enthusiasts can use the data, models, and tools of the iSWA system, and
hopefully find it a useful resource for learning about different aspects
of space weather.
Listening to the Rhythm of the Sun
Turbulence in the outer (convective) layers of the
changes in the gas and creates sound waves. These
inside the star and cause it to resonate like a
the study of these solar wave oscillations.
The "signature" of sound waves as they travel
through a particular
type of material is unique, and it changes as the
changes. Helioseismology works in a similar way: the
waves travel through the interior of the Sun tells
3D Sun for the iPhone
Imagine holding the entire Sun in the palm of your
you can. A new app developed by NASA-supported
delivers a live global view of the sun directly to
or iPod Touch.
February 11, 2010
Solar Dynamics Observatory launched!
The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was launched from Cape
Canaveral at 10:23 a.m. EST on Feb. 11. The spacecraft is in good shape
midway through the launch phase that will eventually place it into orbit
reaching more than 21,000 miles. SDO is designed to study the causes of
solar variability to help us better understand its impacts on Earth.
SDO's three onboard telescopes will observe changes
in the extreme ultraviolet irradiance, monitor the magnetic field and
Doppler shifts over the entire visible disk, and make high-resolution
images of the chromosphere and inner solar corona. SDO will help
scientists to study the Sun's influence on Earth and near-Earth space.
Visit our SDO Page for
Credit: NASA. News source: science.nasa.gov