Topic: Coronal Mass Ejection
Greenbelt, MD – To start off the summer, the U.S. Postal Service issued a set of stamps highlighting views of the Sun from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Showcasing a range of solar activity seen by the spacecraft, the stamps celebrate a decade of Sun-watching for this workhorse mission. The Sun Science stamps were issued by the U.S. Postal Service during a ceremony at the Greenbelt Main Post Office in Maryland on June 18th.
Greenbelt, MD – NASA has approved two heliophysics missions to explore the Sun and the system that drives space weather near Earth. Together, NASA’s contribution to the Extreme Ultraviolet High-Throughput Spectroscopic Telescope Epsilon Mission, or EUVST, and the Electrojet Zeeman Imaging Explorer, or EZIE, will help us understand the Sun and Earth as an interconnected system.
Understanding the physics that drive the solar wind and solar explosions – including solar flares and coronal mass ejections – could one day help scientists predict these events, which can impact human technology and explorers in space.
Greenbelt, MD – In February 2020, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory — SDO — is celebrating its 10th year in space. Over the past decade the spacecraft has kept a constant eye on the Sun, studying how the Sun creates solar activity and drives space weather — the dynamic conditions in space that impact the entire solar system, including Earth.
Since its launch on February 11th, 2010, SDO has collected millions of scientific images of our nearest star, giving scientists new insights into its workings.
Written by Lina Tran
Greenbelt, MD – The more solar observatories, the merrier: Scientists have developed new models to see how shocks associated with coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, propagate from the Sun — an effort made possible only by combining data from three NASA satellites to produce a much more robust mapping of a CME than any one could do alone.
Much the way ships form bow waves as they move through water, CMEs set off interplanetary shocks when they erupt from the Sun at extreme speeds, propelling a wave of high-energy particles. These particles can spark space weather events around Earth, endangering spacecraft and astronauts.
Written by Elizabeth Zubritsky
Greenbelt, MD – How long might a rocky, Mars-like planet be habitable if it were orbiting a red dwarf star? It’s a complex question but one that NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission can help answer.
“The MAVEN mission tells us that Mars lost substantial amounts of its atmosphere over time, changing the planet’s habitability,” said David Brain, a MAVEN co-investigator and a professor at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder. “We can use Mars, a planet that we know a lot about, as a laboratory for studying rocky planets outside our solar system, which we don’t know much about yet.”
Written by Sarah Frazier
Greenbelt, MD – Our Sun is active: Not only does it release a constant stream of material, called the solar wind, but it also lets out occasional bursts of faster-moving material, known as coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.
NASA researchers wish to improve our understanding of CMEs and how they move through space because they can interact with the magnetic field around Earth, affecting satellites, interfering with GPS signals, triggering auroras, and — in extreme cases — straining power grids.
While we track CMEs with a number of instruments, the sheer size of the solar system means that our observations are limited, and usually taken from a distance.
Written by Karen C. Fox
Greenbelt, MD – The Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission is scheduled to launch into space on March 12th, 2015. The mission consists of four spacecraft to observe a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection — which doesn’t happen naturally on Earth all that often, but is a regular occurrence in space.
At the heart of magnetic reconnection is a fundamental physics process in which magnetic field lines come together and explosively realign, often sending the particles in the area flying off near the speed of light.
Written by Karen C. Fox
Greenbelt, MD – An active region on the sun – an area of intense and complex magnetic fields – rotated into view on October 18th, 2014. Labeled AR 12192, it soon grew into the largest such region in 24 years, and fired off 10 sizable solar flares as it traversed across the face of the sun.
The region was so large it could be seen without a telescope for those looking at the sun with eclipse glasses, as many did during a partial eclipse of the sun on October 23rd.
Written by Tony Phillips
Washington, D.C. – After 10-month voyage across more than 400 million miles of empty space, NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft reached Mars on September 21st 2014. Less than 8 hours later, the data started to flow.
“Our Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) obtained these false-color images of Mars on September 22nd,” says Nick Schneider who leads the instrument team at the University of Colorado. “They trace the distribution of hydrogen and oxygen in the Martian atmosphere.”
Written by Whitney Clavin
Pasadena, CA – NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has experienced a new “tsunami wave” from the sun as it sails through interstellar space. Such waves are what led scientists to the conclusion, in the fall of 2013, that Voyager had indeed left our sun’s bubble, entering a new frontier.
“Normally, interstellar space is like a quiet lake,” said Ed Stone of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California, the mission’s project scientist since 1972. “But when our sun has a burst, it sends a shock wave outward that reaches Voyager about a year later. The wave causes the plasma surrounding the spacecraft to sing.”
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