Isn’t she a beauty?!
NASA’s GREECE mission, which will study how the curls and swirls of an aurora forms, launched early last week.
“We can’t wait to dig into the data,” said one investigator on the project.
We can’t either!
The sun released a “significant” solar flare Monday – a monster in fact, according to some media reports. The powerful blast of radiation doesn’t seem to be headed our way, but if it were, NASA says not to worry. Earth’s atmosphere protects us from being harmed by radiation. However, we might have some problems tweeting.
… when intense enough [solar flares] can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.”
Not good. Here’s more about Monday’s flare:
— NASA Goddard Images (@NASAGoddardPix) February 25, 2014
Some believe a large enough flare could cause damage to the North American electrical grid, the effects of which could leave Western nations in the dark for months. But that’s for another time. If you’re interested in learning more about solar flares and the sun’s active cycle – which is happening right now!! – check out some of our past posts.
Did you know that the sun ejects massive bursts of magnetic energy into space? Serious damage is in store for anything in its path. Sometimes, it’s us. While Earth does have a protective shield that deflects solar wind, some radiation will enter our atmosphere. This video shows the cycle of radiation, from its violent release to its importance on Earth.
Curious about the sun’s solar bursts, how big they can get and when they’re most likely to occur? I got you covered.
Last week, days after the sun released a massive burst of solar wind and magnetic fields toward Earth, the particles collided with our planet’s magnetic field. When the two smash together, they create these amazing displays in the sky.
Green is the most common auroral color, according to Northern Lights Centre.
A pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora.
The above photograph, courtesy of NASA, was taken over Marquette, Mich., on May 18. Image by Amy Cherrette
It’s been awhile since I posted anything about solar flares. (Though, it’s also been awhile since I’ve written about anything in general … Hopefully the astronomy news hanging out in the dark tunnels of my email archive will soon see the light.) Anyway, here’s a video of X-Class solar flares, a first for 2013.
The video was taken earlier this month when, within a 24-hour time period, the sun emitted three fairly large flares.
With all this talk about solar storms, I figured it’d be a good idea to post this fabulous informational graphic from Space.com.
Learn more about solar storms in this Space Oddities post.
An extremely fast coronal mass ejection (CME) is heading straight for Earth tomorrow, Jan. 24, according to NASA.
A CME is a violent, and quite sudden, release of gas and magnetic fields from our Sun.
This solar flare, an M8.7-class, would be the strongest solar radiation storm since September 2005, according to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. And it’s traveling at 1,400 miles per second. Wow!
According to Spaceweather.com, “M-class flares are medium-sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth’s polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare.”
Learn more about these powerful storms here.