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Topic: NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory studies Comet ISON and Comet PanSTARRS

 

Written by Molly Porter
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationHuntsville, AL – For millennia, people on Earth have watched comets in the sky. Many ancient cultures saw comets as the harbingers of doom, but today scientists know that comets are really frozen balls of dust, gas, and rock and may have been responsible for delivering water to planets like Earth billions of years ago.

While comets are inherently interesting, they can also provide information about other aspects of our Solar System. More specifically, comets can be used as laboratories to study the behavior of the stream of particles flowing away from the Sun, known as the solar wind.

Recently, astronomers announced the results of a study using data collected with NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory of two comets — C/2012 S1 (also known as “Comet ISON”) and C/2011 S4 (“Comet PanSTARRS”).

The Comets ISON and PanSTARRS in optical images taken by an astrophotographer, with insets showing the X-ray images from Chandra. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ . of CT/B.Snios et al, Optical: DSS, Damian Peach ( damianpeach.com ))

The Comets ISON and PanSTARRS in optical images taken by an astrophotographer, with insets showing the X-ray images from Chandra. (X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ . of CT/B.Snios et al, Optical: DSS, Damian Peach ( damianpeach.com ))

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NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale Probe set to launch March 12th

 

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

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, 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.

Solar flares – such as this one captured by NASA's SDO on July 12, 2012, are initiated by a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. (NASA/SDO)

Solar flares – such as this one captured by NASA’s SDO on July 12, 2012, are initiated by a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection. (NASA/SDO)

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NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) helps Scientists study Electrons streaming from the Sun

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – In the quest to understand how the world’s weather moves around the globe, scientists have had to tease apart different kinds of atmospheric movement, such as the great jet streams that can move across a whole hemisphere versus more intricate, localized flows.

Much the same must currently be done to understand the various motions at work in the great space weather system that links the sun and Earth as the sun shoots material out in all directions, creating its own version of a particle sea to fill up the solar system.

NASA's Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) observes a wide array of particles that flow toward Earth from the sun to better understand the great space weather system that connects the sun to our planet. (Credit: NASA/H. Zell)

NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE) observes a wide array of particles that flow toward Earth from the sun to better understand the great space weather system that connects the sun to our planet. (Credit: NASA/H. Zell)

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