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Topic: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory

NASA missions have discovered an abundance of Water in our Solar System

 

Written by Preston Dyches
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – As NASA missions explore our solar system and search for new worlds, they are finding water in surprising places. Water is but one piece of our search for habitable planets and life beyond Earth, yet it links many seemingly unrelated worlds in surprising ways.

“NASA science activities have provided a wave of amazing findings related to water in recent years that inspire us to continue investigating our origins and the fascinating possibilities for other worlds, and life, in the universe,” said Ellen Stofan, chief scientist for the agency. “In our lifetime, we may very well finally answer whether we are alone in the solar system and beyond.”

NASA is exploring our solar system and beyond to understand the workings of the universe, searching for water and life among the stars. (NASA)

NASA is exploring our solar system and beyond to understand the workings of the universe, searching for water and life among the stars. (NASA)

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NASA looks into the mystery of the Sun’s Nanoflares

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – When you attach the prefix “nano” to something, it usually means “very small.” Solar flares appear to be the exception.

Researchers are studying a type of explosion on the sun called a ‘nanoflare.’  A billion times less energetic than ordinary flares, nanoflares have a power that belies their name.

“A typical ‘nanoflare’ has the same energy as 240 megatons of TNT,” says physicist David Smith of UC Santa Cruz. “That would be something like 10,000 atomic fission bombs.”

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NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory sees Giant Sunspot erupting more Solar Flares from the Sun

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, an M6.6-class, peaking at 11:32pm EDT on October 28th, 2014 – the latest in a series of substantial flares from a giant active region on the sun that first erupted with a significant solar flare on October 19th.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which constantly observes the sun, captured images of the event.

To see how this event may affect Earth, please visit NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center at http://spaceweather.gov , the U.S. government’s official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.

A large active region erupts with a mid-level flare, an M6.6-class, in this image from NASA's SDO on the night of Oct. 27, 2014. The region will soon rotate over the right horizon of the sun and will no longer be facing Earth. (NASA/SDO)

A large active region erupts with a mid-level flare, an M6.6-class, in this image from NASA’s SDO on the night of Oct. 27, 2014. The region will soon rotate over the right horizon of the sun and will no longer be facing Earth. (NASA/SDO)

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NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captures images of Mid-level Solar Flare from the Sun

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 3:01pm EDT on October 2nd, 2014. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun 24-hours a day, captured images of the flare. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation.

Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of a solar flare on Oct. 2nd, 2014. The solar flare is the bright flash of light on the right limb of the sun. A burst of solar material erupting out into space can be seen just below it. (NASA/SDO)

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of a solar flare on Oct. 2nd, 2014. The solar flare is the bright flash of light on the right limb of the sun. A burst of solar material erupting out into space can be seen just below it. (NASA/SDO)

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NASA takes a look at the passing of Comet ISON

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Astronomers have long known that some comets like it hot. Several of the greatest comets in history have flown close to the sun, puffing themselves up with solar heat, before they became naked-eye wonders in the night sky.

Some comets like it hot, but Comet ISON was not one of them.

The much-anticipated flyby of the sun by Comet ISON on Thanksgiving Day 2013 is over, and instead of becoming a Great Comet….

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NASA takes a close look at the passing Comet ISON

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – After several days of continued observations, scientists continue to work to determine and to understand the fate of Comet ISON: There’s no doubt that the comet shrank in size considerably as it rounded the sun and there’s no doubt that something made it out on the other side to shoot back into space.

The question remains as to whether the bright spot seen moving away from the sun was simply debris, or whether a small nucleus of the original ball of ice was still there. Regardless, it is likely that it is now only dust.

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NASA reports Mini Halloween Storms of 2013

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Ten years ago, in late October 2003, space weather forecasters experienced a frission of dread when two gigantic sunspots appeared. Both had complex magnetic fields that harbored energy for strong explosions. If the spots turned toward Earth and erupted….

That’s exactly what happened. From October 19th through November 7th 2003, there were 17 major eruptions on the sun, including a record-setting X28 flare.

An X2-class solar flare recorded by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on Sept. 29, 2013.

An X2-class solar flare recorded by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on Sept. 29, 2013.

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NASA’s IRIS Spacecraft will point it’s Telescope at the Sun to better understand it’s Energy

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationSpace Center, FL – Researchers hope NASA’s latest solar observatory will answer a fundamental question of how the sun creates such intense energy.

Scheduled to launch June 27th, the IRIS spacecraft will point a telescope at the interface region of the sun that lies between the surface and the million degree outer atmosphere called the corona. It will improve our understanding of how energy moves from the sun’s surface to the glowing corona, heating up from 6,000 degrees to millions of degrees.

Engineers work with the IRIS spacecraft on the nose of the Pegasus XL rocket that will launch the solar observatory into Earth orbit. (Photo credit: VAFB/Rnady Beaudoin)

Engineers work with the IRIS spacecraft on the nose of the Pegasus XL rocket that will launch the solar observatory into Earth orbit. (Photo credit: VAFB/Rnady Beaudoin)

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NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory gives insight into how Coronal Mass Ejections form

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On July 18th, 2012, a fairly small explosion of light burst off the lower right limb of the sun. Such flares often come with an associated eruption of solar material, known as a coronal mass ejection or CME – but this one did not.

Something interesting did happen, however. Magnetic field lines in this area of the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, began to twist and kink, generating the hottest solar material – a charged gas called plasma – to trace out the newly-formed slinky shape.

On July 19th, 2012, SDO captured images of a solar flare in numerous wavelengths. The 131 Angstrom wavelength, shown here in the middle and colorized in teal, portrays particularly hot material on the sun, at 10 million Kelvin, which is why the incredibly hot flare shows up best in that wavelength. The 131 wavelength was also able to show kinked magnetic fields known as a flux rope that lay at the heart of a coronal mass ejection (CME), which also erupted at the same time as the flare. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

On July 19th, 2012, SDO captured images of a solar flare in numerous wavelengths. The 131 Angstrom wavelength, shown here in the middle and colorized in teal, portrays particularly hot material on the sun, at 10 million Kelvin, which is why the incredibly hot flare shows up best in that wavelength. The 131 wavelength was also able to show kinked magnetic fields known as a flux rope that lay at the heart of a coronal mass ejection (CME), which also erupted at the same time as the flare. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

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National Research Council report shows more ways the Sun effects Earth’s Climate

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In the galactic scheme of things, the Sun is a remarkably constant star. While some stars exhibit dramatic pulsations, wildly yo-yoing in size and brightness, and sometimes even exploding, the luminosity of our own sun varies a measly 0.1% over the course of the 11-year solar cycle.

There is, however, a dawning realization among researchers that even these apparently tiny variations can have a significant effect on terrestrial climate. A new report issued by the National Research Council (NRC), “The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth’s Climate,” lays out some of the surprisingly complex ways that solar activity can make itself felt on our planet.

These six extreme UV images of the sun, taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, track the rising level of solar activity as the sun ascends toward the peak of the latest 11-year sunspot cycle.

These six extreme UV images of the sun, taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, track the rising level of solar activity as the sun ascends toward the peak of the latest 11-year sunspot cycle.

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