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Topic: NASA’s twin STEREO probes

NASA Mission Operations works to Reestablish Communications with it’s STEREO-B Spacecraft

 

Written by Sarah Frazier
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On October 1st, 2014, NASA mission operations lost communication with one of the two spacecraft of the Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, mission, just as the spacecraft was about to orbit around the other side of the sun.

Though they haven’t heard from the Behind spacecraft, also known as STEREO-B, in over a year, the spacecraft has finally emerged into a region where it can once again receive radio signals. Scientists have a plan to get it back—and their chances only get better with time.

NASA lost communications with it's STEREO-B Spacecraft on October 1st, 2014 as it began to orbit the other side of the sun. It has now emerged from behind the sun and NASA mission operations hopes that communications cab be reestablish with the spacecraft. (NASA)

NASA lost communications with it’s STEREO-B Spacecraft on October 1st, 2014 as it began to orbit the other side of the sun. It has now emerged from behind the sun and NASA mission operations hopes that communications cab be reestablish with the spacecraft. (NASA)

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NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover observes Sunspots on the face of the Sun

 

Written by Guy Webster
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – While busily investigating bedrock types on Mars’ Mount Sharp and preparing for a drill test, NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover has also been looking up frequently to monitor sunspots on the face of the sun that is turned away from Earth.

Large sunspots are evident in views from Curiosity’s Mast Camera (Mastcam). Scientists temporarily have no other resource providing views of the sun from the opposite side of the solar system from Earth. The sun completes a rotation about once a month — faster near its equator than near its poles.

An eruption from the surface of the sun is conspicuous in the lower left portion of this July 6, 2015, image from NASA's Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory. (Image credit: NASA)

An eruption from the surface of the sun is conspicuous in the lower left portion of this July 6, 2015, image from NASA’s Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory. (Image credit: NASA)

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NASA reports Sun has entered Solar Max of it’s solar cycle

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Years ago, in 2008 and 2009 an eerie quiet descended on the sun. Sunspot counts dropped to historically-low levels and solar flares ceased altogether. As the longest and deepest solar minimum in a century unfolded, bored solar physicists wondered when “Solar Max” would ever return.

They can stop wondering. “It’s back,” says Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space Flight Center. “Solar Max has arrived.”

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NASA reports on Intense Solar Storm that barely missed Earth

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Last month (April 8th-11th), scientists, government officials, emergency planners and others converged on Boulder, Colorado, for NOAA’s Space Weather Workshop—an annual gathering to discuss the perils and probabilities of solar storms.

The current solar cycle is weaker than usual, so you might expect a correspondingly low-key meeting. On the contrary, the halls and meeting rooms were abuzz with excitement about an intense solar storm that narrowly missed Earth.

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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’s STEREO probes discovers Rock Comet’s Tail

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Astronomers have long been puzzled by a certain meteor shower.

Every year in mid-December the sky fills with flashes of light shooting out of the constellation Gemini. The Geminids are fast, bright, and reliable. They never fail to show up and many observers count them as the finest meteors of the year.

But where do they come from? That is the puzzle.

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NASA details Comet ISON’s encounter with a Solar Storm

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In 2007, astronomers were amazed when a solar storm hit Comet Encke. NASA STEREO spacecraft watched as a CME (coronal mass ejection) struck the comet head on and ripped off its tail.

The same thing could be in store for Comet ISON–only worse.

On November 28th, Comet ISON will pass through the sun’s atmosphere, flying little more than a million kilometers above the sun’s surface. It will be ~30 times closer to the sun than Encke was in 2007 and more likely to encounter a ferocious solar storm.

A CME strikes Comet Encke in April 2007

A CME strikes Comet Encke in April 2007 (Click to view movie)

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NASA reports Comet Encke and Comet ISON to Fly the planet Mercury

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – What are the odds? On November 18th and 19th not one but two comets will fly by the planet Mercury.

“This is a unique coincidence,” says Ron Vervack an astronomer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and a member of the science team for NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, “and a golden opportunity to study two comets passing close to the sun.”

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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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