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August 20, 2010

Multiple Solar Events Captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory

August 1, 2010 was a day on which just about everything happened on the Sun that scientists were hoping to observe some day. It all happened to be connected, which made it a day for which SDO was designed: multiple flares, filament eruptions, long-distance interactions all over the Sun, and strong thermal variations. Check out these summary movies:

4 Image variety of wavelengths. Top left are relatively cool coronal temperatures, bottom left are the ones sensitive to higher temperatures, top right is the chromospheric He II 304A and bottom right the low-coronal temperature plasma in 171A.

Detail A and Detail B show the two left-hand three-color composites in more detail.

Shows a different combination of channels, with the chromosphere in red and the 1-2 million degree corona in green-blue.

News source: Karel Schrijver, LMSAL


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 research.

Read more...

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: solar storms.

Read more...

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 could explain.

Read more...

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 South America.

Read more...

News source:eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov, science.nasa.gov
Image Credit: Dr. Andrew Sinclair; source: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov.


July 1 , 2010

NASA Retires TRACE Spacecraft After Highly Successful Mission

After a successful 12-year mission, NASA's Transition Region And Coronal Explorer (TRACE) conducted its final observations of the Sun on June 21.

Read more...

News source:science.nasa.gov


June 21, 2010
aurora
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.

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Image Credit: ISS/NASA
News source:earthobservatory.nasa.gov


June 14, 2010
space weather thumb
GOES-15 Solar X-Ray Imager's Miraculous First Light

GOES-15 launched on March 4, 2010 from Cape Canaveral, Fla. On June 3, the GOES-15 Solar X-Ray Imager (SXI) instrument came on-line. Scientists and engineers had subjected SXI to a series of long duration tests and now believe to have full instrument functionality. Several test solar images have been subsequently taken successfully.

Read more...

Image Credit: NASA/NOAA/LockheedMartin
News source:science.nasa.gov


June 4, 2010
space 
weather thumb
As the Sun Awakens, NASA Keeps a Wary Eye on Space Weather

The Sun is slowly becoming more active, and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. At the same time, our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms. A century-class solar storm could cause enormous economic damage by shutting down power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications. A major goal of studying solar activity is to enable us to predict, prepare for, and mitigate potentially devastating space weather events.

Read more...

Image Credit: NASA.
News source:science.nasa.gov


May 29, 2010
Aurora Surprise

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.


News source:spaceweather.com


May 18, 2010
voyager 2 art
Engineers Diagnosing Voyager 2 Data System

Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 space probes were launched in 1977, and their original goals were to explore Jupiter and Saturn. They are still returning data 33 years later, on their journey out of the solar system. The two spacecraft are now the most distant human-made objects, out at the edge of the heliosphere, the bubble the Sun creates around the solar system. Voyager 1 is expected to leave our solar system and enter interstellar space in the next five years or so, and Voyager 2 is to enter interstellar space shortly afterward.

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.

Read more...

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.
News source:science.nasa.gov


April 27, 2010
coronal 
rain
SDO Observes Massive Solar Eruption

On April 19th, NASA's new Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft has recorded one of the largest solar eruptions in recent years. The movie also shows 'coronal rain' - erupted streams of plasma falling back to the surface of the Sun, making bright splashes where they hit the surface.

Read more...

Image Credit: SDO/AIA.
News source:science.nasa.gov


April 21, 2010
sdo first images
First Light for the Solar Dynamics Observatory

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 were stunned.

Read more...

Image Credit: NASA.
News source:science.nasa.gov


April 13, 2010

ACE and STEREO Data Build Space Weather Forecasting System

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.

Read more...

News source:sciencedaily.com


April 7, 2010

Early Earth May Have Absorbed More Sunlight

Researchers have long wondered why water on Earth was not frozen during the early days of the planet, when the Sun emanated only 70 to 75 percent as much energy as it does today. Some theorize that high levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the same mechanism cited in global warming today, were key. But new research involving Stanford scientists has a different explanation: The oceans, much larger than today, absorbed enough heat from the sun to avoid turning into ice.

Read more...

News source: news.stanford.edu


March 12, 2010

The Solar 'Conveyor Belt' Speeds Up

The Great Conveyor Belt is a massive circulating current of hot plasma within the Sun. It has two branches, north and south, each taking about 40 years to complete one circuit. Data from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft show that the top of the Conveyor Belt has been running at record-high speeds for the past five years. Researchers believe the turning of the belt controls the sunspot cycle, and the increase in speed could explain the unusually deep solar minimum.

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News source: science.nasa.gov


February 23, 2010

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.

Read more...

ISWA Home Page

Sources: sciencedaily.com, iswa.gsfc.nasa.gov


February 17, 2010

Listening to the Rhythm of the Sun

Turbulence in the outer (convective) layers of the Sun produces changes in the gas and creates sound waves. These waves remain inside the star and cause it to resonate like a musical instrument. Helioseismology is 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 material changes. Helioseismology works in a similar way: the way that waves travel through the interior of the Sun tells us about its structure.

Read more...

News source: sciencedaily.com


February 17, 2010

3D Sun for the iPhone

Imagine holding the entire Sun in the palm of your hand. Now you can. A new app developed by NASA-supported programmers delivers a live global view of the sun directly to your iPhone or iPod Touch.

Read more...

News source: science.nasa.gov


February 11, 2010
sdo art
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.

Read more...

Visit our SDO Page for more information

Image Credit: NASA. News source: science.nasa.gov



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