Huge Solar Flare Disrupts GPS Satellites Globally


Image: NASA/GSFC/SDO

❝ The Sun’s impact on weather here on Earth is clear: It makes it hot or cold, it powers air currents, it causes water to evaporate making rain, et cetera. But with our increasing reliance on satellites and electronics, you can’t forget its more insidious effects — and some satellites got a taste of those…

Around 5:10 and 8:00AM eastern time, the Sun let out a hiccup and then a loud belch — the largest solar flare in twelve years. These large events are typically harmless to those on the ground, but this one could have potentially disrupted GPS communication yesterday morning.

❝ The flares came from part of the sun called AR 2673…The two flares fell into the X class of most powerful events, one registering an X2.2…and the second registering an X9.3…This second flare was the largest since 2005, and the eighth-largest on record.

These flares come as the Sun is weakening in its 11 year cycle, and X9.3 is especially intense as solar activity approaches its minimum. According to reporting by New Scientist, the storm temporarily disrupted GPS and radio communications…

❝ Space weather isn’t something you necessarily need to worry about, but it’s definitely something engineers and anyone involved with electronics needs to consider…

There’s even an “oops” moment where the article provides a rationale for Trump’s ignorant maundering about vote recording. Not that facts have much to do with his thought processes.

NASA, SDO: Year 5

February 11, 2015 marks five years in space for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which provides incredibly detailed images of the whole sun 24 hours a day. Capturing an image more than once per second, SDO has provided an unprecedentedly clear picture of how massive explosions on the sun grow and erupt ever since its launch on Feb. 11, 2010. The imagery is also captivating, allowing one to watch the constant ballet of solar material through the sun’s atmosphere, the corona.

Turn up the sound. Set resolution as high as you can. A stunning video.

Hinode satellite recorded X-ray footage of solar eclipse


Click to enlarge

On October 23rd, while North America was witnessing a partial eclipse of the sun, the Hinode spacecraft observed a “ring of fire” or annular eclipse from its location hundreds of miles above the North Pole. This image was taken by the X-ray Telescope – the XRT.

The Hinode spacecraft was in the right place at the right time to catch the solar eclipse. What’s more, because of its vantage point Hinode witnessed a “ring of fire” or annular eclipse…

…The XRT was developed and built by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Hinode’s X-ray Telescope is the highest resolution solar X-ray telescope ever flown.

The XRT collects X-rays emitted from the sun’s corona — the hot, tenuous outer layer that extends from the sun’s visible surface into the inner solar system. Gas in the solar corona reaches temperatures of millions of degrees. The energy source that heats the corona is a puzzle. The sun’s surface is only 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, while the corona is more than 100 times hotter.

Science is so beautiful. But, then, the quest for truth always is.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Partial eclipse of the sun, today

Partial eclipse

Sunsets are always pretty. One sunset this month could be out of this world. On Thursday, Oct. 23rd, the setting sun across eastern parts of the USA will be red, beautiful and … crescent-shaped.

“It’s a partial solar eclipse,” explains longtime NASA eclipse expert Fred Espenak. In other words, the New Moon is going to ‘take a bite’ out of the sun…

The partial eclipse of Oct. 23rd will be visible from all of the United States except Hawaii and New England. Coverage ranges from 12% in Florida to nearly 70% in Alaska. Weather permitting, almost everyone in North America will be able to see the crescent.

The eclipse will be especially beautiful in eastern parts of the USA, where the Moon and sun line up at the end of the day, transforming the usual sunset into something weird and wonderful…

A partial eclipse may not be total, but it is totally fun.

See for yourself on Oct. 23rd. The action begins at approximately 6 pm on the east coast, and 2 pm on the west coast. Check NASA’s Eclipse Home Page for viewing times near your hometown.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Pic of the Day

solar filament eruprs
Click to enlargeImage Credit: NASA’s GSFC, SDO AIA Team

What’s happened to our Sun? Nothing very unusual — it just threw a filament. [Kind of like a plasma furball]

Toward the middle of 2012, a long standing solar filament suddenly erupted into space producing an energetic Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). The filament had been held up for days by the Sun’s ever changing magnetic field and the timing of the eruption was unexpected. Watched closely by the Sun-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory, the resulting explosion shot electrons and ions into the Solar System, some of which arrived at Earth three days later and impacted Earth’s magnetosphere, causing visible aurorae.

Loops of plasma surrounding an active region can be seen above the erupting filament in the ultraviolet image…

Thanks, Ursarodinia

NASA Iris satellite shows sun in amazing detail

The region located between the surface of the sun and its atmosphere has been revealed as a more violent place than previously understood, according to images and data from NASA’s newest solar observatory, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS.

Solar observatories look at the sun in layers. By capturing light emitted by atoms of different temperatures, they can focus in on different heights above the sun’s surface extending well out into the solar atmosphere, the corona. On June 27, 2013, IRIS, was launched, to study what’s known as the interface region – a layer between the sun’s surface and corona that previously was not well observed.

Over its first six months, IRIS has thrilled scientists with detailed images of the interface region, finding even more turbulence and complexity than expected. IRIS scientists presented the mission’s early observations at a press conference at the Fall American Geophysical Union meeting on Dec. 9, 2013.

The quality of images and spectra we are receiving from IRIS is amazing,” said Alan Title, IRIS principal investigator at Lockheed Martin in Palo Alto, Calif. “And we’re getting this kind of quality from a smaller, less expensive mission, which took only 44 months to build.”

Click through the link [above] and discover details, photos and a snazzy video. Enjoy!

Blood pressure benefits from the sun may exceed cancer risks

The health benefits of exposing skin to sunlight may far outweigh the risk of developing skin cancer…Edinburgh University research suggests sunlight helps reduce blood pressure, cutting heart attack and stroke risks and even prolonging life.

UV rays were found to release a compound that lowers blood pressure.

Researchers said more studies would be carried out to determine if it is time to reconsider advice on skin exposure.

Heart disease and stroke linked to high blood pressure are estimated to lead to about 80 times more deaths than those from skin cancer in the UK.

Production of the pressure-reducing compound, nitric oxide, is separate from the body’s manufacture of vitamin D, which rises after exposure to sunshine.

Researchers said that until now vitamin D production had been considered the sole benefit of the sun to human health…

Dr Richard Weller, a senior lecturer in dermatology at Edinburgh University, said: “We suspect that the benefits to heart health of sunlight will outweigh the risk of skin cancer.

“The work we have done provides a mechanism that might account for this, and also explains why dietary vitamin D supplements alone will not be able to compensate for lack of sunlight.

“We now plan to look at the relative risks of heart disease and skin cancer in people who have received different amounts of sun exposure.

“If this confirms that sunlight reduces the death rate from all causes, we will need to reconsider our advice on sun exposure.”

I tend to approach most health questions within the context of the anthropology of evolution. Diet, exercise, sex – all parts of a species evolving over time in widely differing environments; but, similar questions leading the analysis of that evolution. That we live longer than our nature-oriented forebears certainly skews the analysis – and even the ailments we now encounter, like skin cancer.

Still, I have to lean easiest into the context that defined our environment over millennia – and how we responded to that environment.