Connect with us

Science

This huge X-class solar flare shows why NASA’s Sun study is so vital – SlashGear

Published

 on


NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has caught a huge flare erupting from the Sun, a 10 million degree Fahrenheit eruption potent enough to disrupt GPS and more. The SDO – which launched in 2010 – continuously monitors the Sun with a trio of instruments, tracking its energy output and magnetic field, and gauging the impact of solar changes on Earth and other parts of the Solar System.

That’s because, while the Sun may provide heat and light, it’s also capable of significantly disrupting things on Earth too. Strong solar eruptions can cause waves of electromagnetic radiation that impact or even overwhelm GPS, telecommunications, and other satellites.

Figuring out how the solar atmosphere and magnetic fluctuations translate to those powerful waves has been a key part of the SDO mission. It’s also capable of snapping images of eruptions, such as the “significant” solar flare which NASA says was observed peaking at 10:29 am EDT on July 3, 2021.

Much like earthquakes are rated by their force on the Richter scale, flares are classified by their X-ray wavelength brightness. The most significant are X-class; M-class flares are medium sized, while C-class flares are small. A number is appended to indicate the relative strength within each classification.

The flare on July 3 was rated as X1.5-class, NASA confirms, the strongest since 2017. That’s far from being the most potent ever observed – back in 2003, for example, an X28-class solar flare was recorded, with an eruption of coronal mass at at around 5.1 million miles per hour – though still sufficient to cause issues for objects in orbit, and briefly disrupt radio.

Part of the SDO’s mission, then, is to understand just what causes those eruptions – and potentially develop systems more resilient to withstanding their effects. Back in March 2021, a so-called “Rosetta Stone Eruption” was captured by the SDO along with the European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. That included three different types of solar eruptions that would more typically occur separately.

[embedded content]

“This event is a missing link, where we can see all of these aspects of different types of eruptions in one neat little package,” Emily Mason, lead author of a study into the eruption, and a solar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, explained. “It drives home the point that these eruptions are caused by the same mechanism, just at different scales.”

It’s important, because not only are satellites at risk but potential future crewed missions within the solar system. While Earth’s atmosphere provides a layer of protection for life on the ground, shielding humans, animals, and plants outside of that barrier is far harder. Indeed, keeping astronauts safe for trips to Mars and beyond is one of NASA and other agencies key concerns as missions are planned.

While tamping down on solar activity isn’t possible, the hope is that better understanding how things like coronal mass ejections (CMEs) form will allow for more warning time. That way, astronauts and spacecraft could gain valuable preparation time should a sizable CME be forecast.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

A Grand Meteor Shower – Wawa-news.com – Wawa-news.com

Published

 on


photo courtesy – Pierre Martin

Over the past few weeks, you have probably noticed a few meteors or “shoot stars” at night. You are witnessing one of the best meteor showers of the year. The Perseid Meteor Shower is now underway from July 14 to August 14. The best time to see the most meteors will be on the night of August 12 and into the morning hours of the 13. This year the crescent moon sets around 10:30 p.m. local time leaving us with a dark sky. By contrast, next year’s Perseids takes place under a full moon, drastically reducing the hourly rate.

If you have the chance to observe from dark skies absent of any stray lights, enjoy the band of our Milky Way Galaxy as this collective glow of billions of distant stars stretches from Sagittarius in the south to Cassiopeia in the northeast. Also, brilliant planets Jupiter and Saturn to Jupiter’s right will be out all night long to keep you company. There are unmistakable and located to the left of Sagittarius.

The peak of the Perseids produces about 90 meteors per hour but occurs late afternoon in daylight on the 12th. Towards the end of the night when the constellation Perseus is high in the sky around 3 a.m. we should still see from 50 to 60 meteors striking the atmosphere at 59 km/sec or 36 mi/sec. A higher number of bright fireballs may be seen on nights before the peak rather than nights after. The friction of comet debris causes the “flash” or “streak” which safely vaporize about 80 km high in the atmosphere with no chance of meteorites hitting the ground.

The parent comet is named Swift-Tuttle, a 26 km or 16 mi wide mountain of ice, dust and gravel that last appeared in 1992 in its 133-year orbit around the sun. It will return in the year 2125, replenishing a fresh path of comet debris ejected from the comet’s surface as it gets close to the sun. Here is where the solar radiation interacts with the comet, causing volatile material to vaporize and create the comet’s coma or cometary fog measuring close to 100,000 kilometres wide around the smaller nucleus. A dust tail forms as debris is blown off the comet’s surface much like confetti blowing off the back of a truck on the highway. As Swift-Tuttle retreated from the sun’s warming effects and back to the outer solar system, it faded away becoming a dark mountain once again only to be awakened by the sun upon its return.

The new comet dust lingers in space until Earth plows through the debris field in its yearly orbit around the sun, much like crossing the finish line of a race. This is why the Perseids and other known meteor showers occur at the same time each year. So gather a few friends and/or family members, set up chairs, bring snacks and take advantage of warm moonless conditions to view this epic display. Look up at the stars, listen to the crickets and frogs and let nature bring a sense of calm over you.

Known as “The Backyard Astronomer”, Gary Boyle is an astronomy educator, guest speaker and monthly columnist for the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. He has been interviewed on more than 50 Canadian radio stations and local Ottawa TV. In recognition of his public outreach in astronomy, the International Astronomical Union has honoured him with the naming of Asteroid (22406) Garyboyle. Follow him on Twitter: @astroeducator or his website: www.wondersofastronomy.com

Latest posts by Gary Boyle (see all)

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

NASA, Boeing launch Starliner to the ISS: How to watch test flight live – CNET

Published

 on


Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft sits atop a ULA Atlas V rocket in July 2021.


Boeing/John Grant

Boeing is set to relaunch its Starliner crew capsule for a second attempt at docking with the International Space Station this Tuesday, Aug. 3 (there won’t be any humans aboard). Boeing’s first try in late 2019 failed to reach the ISS but landed safely back on Earth. 

The mission was originally scheduled to take off Friday, but it’s now aiming for Tuesday after an unexpected issue last Thursday with an ISS module firing its thrusters shortly after docking with the station. 

“The International Space Station team will use the time to continue working checkouts of the newly arrived Roscosmos Nauka multipurpose laboratory module (MLM) and to ensure the station will be ready for Starliner’s arrival,” said NASA in a statement.

Software defects and a communications link problem led to a premature end to the original Boeing test flight in 2019, though the CST-100 Starliner capsule landed safely back on Earth. The upcoming Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission is a chance for Boeing to thoroughly vet its hardware and software before a crew of three American astronauts flies on Starliner.

Both Boeing and SpaceX are part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which is all about sending astronauts to the ISS from American soil. SpaceX has now delivered 10 astronauts to the ISS, and Boeing would like to catch up. First, it’ll need to show that its Starliner can safely reach the ISS and return to Earth.

NASA will livestream the launch, which is scheduled to occur at 10:20 a.m. PT (1:20 p.m. ET) on Tuesday Aug. 3. Coverage is expected to begin at 9:30 a.m. PT. 

Starliner will lift off on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The capsule will be packed with around 400 pounds of crew supplies and cargo. If all goes well, it’ll dock with the space station about 24 hours later, on Wednesday Aug. 4. Docking will also be covered live by NASA’s NASA TV.

ULA shared some scenic photos from the launch site on Monday as it prepares for liftoff. 

Starliner will spend between five and 10 days at the ISS before bringing research samples back to Earth. Boeing will aim to bring the spacecraft back for a gentle parachute landing in the desert of New Mexico.

“OFT-2 will provide valuable data that will help NASA certify Boeing’s crew transportation system to carry astronauts to and from the space station,” NASA said in a statement July 22 after successfully concluding a flight readiness review.

The mission is a key step for NASA’s plans to run regular crewed launches from the US, ending its reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. If all goes well, the first crewed mission, Boe-CFT, could launch in the next six months.

Follow CNET’s 2021 Space Calendar to stay up to date with all the latest space news this year. You can even add it to your own Google Calendar.    

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Meteor Shower 2021: Why There Are Only A Few Precious Hours In 2021 When You Can Reliably See ‘Shooting Stars’ – Forbes

Published

 on


Have you ever seen a “shooting star?” If you haven’t, you’ll no doubt have read articles imploring you to go outside and experience a “shower” of meteors. 

There’s no such thing as a “meteor shower.” 

Meteoroids don’t behave like that. “Shooting stars” are caused by Earth’s atmosphere colliding with clumps of dust left along its orbital path by a passing comet. They look like streaks and they last around a second, depending on the “shower” in question.

“Shooting stars” are sudden events that can happen anywhere in the night sky, but they’re sporadic. They rarely happen together. For instance, you might see one out of the corner of your eye and, five minutes later, see another one in a completely different part of the sky. Many of them you will miss. There are never two or three—or more—“raining down” at the same time, as composite photographs would suggest.

Besides, when you read that a “meteor shower” like the Lyrids, Orionids or Geminids could have “up to 150 shooting stars per hour,” what it really means that it might be possible to see that many (the so-called zenithal hourly rate or ZHR) in perfect conditions. That scenario is, in practice, impossible to achieve—you would need to be observing the entire night sky constantly, for many hours either side of the absolute “peak” of activity, and in super-dark skies. 

However, the biggest factor that determines what you’re likely to see—and one many meteor shower-promoters fail to point out—is the effect of Moon and moonlight.

If there’s a first quarter Moon or anything brighter, particularly a full Moon, in the sky during the peak night(s) of a meteor shower, you can forget seeing anything other than the very brightest of “shooting stars.” And they’re very rare. 

If the Moon is big and bright then, in effect, you’ll be observing from under a heavily light-polluted night sky even if you’ve gone to a dark sky destination. 

So which meteor showers are the ones to go for in 2021? There are going to be three meteor showers in 2021 that will occur under near-ideal conditions. 

The bad news?

The first (and by far the best) one isn’t until August 2021.

The good news?

It’s the Perseids, arguably the most famous and easiest meteor shower to observe in the northern hemisphere … largely because it occurs in the middle of summer when it’s easiest to be outdoors at night. 

The best three meteor showers in 2021, these will be best observed after midnight, with the exception of the Draconids, which can be observed right after dark. 

1. Perseid meteor shower 2021

When: Thursday/Friday, August 12/13, 2021

Moon phase: 23%-lit crescent Moon

ZHR: 110

2. Draconid meteor shower 2021

When: Friday/Saturday, October 8/9, 2021

Moon phase: 10%-lit crescent Moon

ZHR: 10

3. South Taurid meteor shower 2021

When: Thursday/Friday, November 4/5, 2021

Moon phase: 0.1%-lit crescent Moon

ZHR: 10

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending