Tagged: Space Weather Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 2:52 pm on March 1, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A New Super-High Satellite Will Eye Weather on Earth—and in Space", , , GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites., GOES-T, , Space Weather,   

    From WIRED: “A New Super-High Satellite Will Eye Weather on Earth—and in Space” 

    From WIRED

    Mar 1, 2022
    Ramin Skibba

    Photograph: Kim Shiflett/NASA.

    Today, the newest member of a family of storm-spotting satellites will head to space, carrying high-resolution cameras that will be used in real time to track everything from hurricanes and floods to wildfires and smoke, and even space weather. The GOES-T satellite is scheduled to blast off at 4:38 pm Eastern time—weather permitting, of course—on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 541 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

    “It’s a very all-purpose spacecraft. Basically, any kind of good or bad weather, any kind of hazardous environmental condition, the cameras on GOES-T will see them,” says Pamela Sullivan, director of the GOES-R program at the the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, which together with NASA designed and built the new satellite. “The GOES satellites really help people every day, before, during and after a disaster.”

    The new satellite will be part of a pair of eyes that spy on North America—one looking west and the other looking east. GOES-T will focus on the western continental US, Alaska, Hawaii, Mexico, some parts of Central America, and the Pacific Ocean. Its sibling, which has been orbiting since 2016, covers the eastern continental US, Canada, and Mexico.

    NOAA has been maintaining this twin set of satellites (and sometimes, a triplet set) since the 1970s, retiring orbiters as they age and swapping new ones in. Once it’s in orbit, GOES-T will be renamed GOES-18, since it’s the 18th satellite in the program, and it will also be known as GOES-West, since it’s the west-looking eye. It will replace the satellite currently covering the west, which in 2018 developed a problem with its Advanced Baseline Imager, one of its most important instruments. A loop heat pipe system has been malfunctioning and not transferring enough heat from the electronics to the radiator. As a result, the heat has become a contaminant; at certain times, the infrared detectors become saturated, degrading their images.

    The older satellite isn’t useless, though. After GOES-T takes its place, it will be put in “standby mode” and maintained as an on-orbit spare, Sullivan says. Thirteen previous satellites have been retired, while two more remain in orbit as backups. The new satellite also isn’t the last. Eventually, another satellite (GOES-U) will follow it, likely to replace the east-looking satellite, ensuring that the dynasty stretches into at least the mid-2030s.

    GOES-T is an upgrade over its predecessors. It is the third member of the new generation of GOES spacecraft that come with improved versions of the Advanced Baseline Imager that can snap high-resolution photos of the entire western hemisphere every five minutes. It takes those images at 16 different spectral bands or “channels”—a red and a blue channel at visual wavelengths, and then 14 others that range from near-infrared to mid-infrared wavelengths. (Earlier GOES imagers only had five channels.) This allows researchers to pick their favorite channels to best map out wildfires, clouds, storms, smoke, dust, water vapor, ozone, and many other atmospheric phenomena.

    While most satellites fly a few hundred miles above the ground in the relatively crowded low Earth orbit, looping the globe every two hours or so, GOES-T will ascend to 22,000 miles—about a tenth of the way to the moon. In this sparsely populated area known as geostationary orbit, spacecraft orbit as fast as the world turns, allowing them to remain positioned over the same spot on the globe. That key feature allows the GOES satellites to continuously monitor weather, which can change quickly. (GOES stands for Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites.)

    “That is the number one big advantage of the GOES instruments,” says Amy Huff, an atmospheric scientist at the NOAA Center for Satellite Applications and Research. “It has really revolutionized the way we respond to fires and smoke.”

    With increasingly intense and destructive blazes in the western US, like the Dixie Fire in California, the Bootleg Fire in Oregon, and the Marshall Fire in Colorado, firefighters and other emergency management officials need real-time images, Huff says. Using combinations of GOES-T’s infrared channels, Huff’s colleagues will be able to continue their work tracking a fire’s location, intensity, size, and temperature all day and night. Huff’s team’s specialty is smoke: They monitor the movement of smoke plumes and air pollution, producing maps and other resources for the aviation industry and public health officials.

    Researchers will also use GOES-T to map clouds—not just the storm-generating cumulonimbus ones, but also wispy, cirrus clouds. “That’s why I’m really excited to get GOES West replaced with GOES-T. It will then be providing information over the Pacific Ocean, which is very much a data void. And since most of our weather comes from the West, that’s a problem,” says Jason Otkin, an atmospheric scientist at University of Wisconsin who frequently uses these satellites’ data. GOES-T will ultimately help improve weather forecasts across the US, he says.

    Researchers and meteorologists also like to take advantage of the satellites’ other instruments, like the Geostationary Lightning Mapper, which spots flashes of light by monitoring an area with a time resolution of 500 frames per second. With GOES-T’s predecessors, lightning-watching scientists have already broken world records, says Michael Peterson, an atmospheric scientist at The DOE’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, who frequently uses these satellite images to study the physics of lightning strikes. “We can see some rare cases where lightning can last not just one second but more than 10 seconds. It truly breaks the mold of what we think lightning can be capable of,” he says. By mapping lightning from space, he and his colleagues have also found giant flashes, some more than 450 miles long.

    GOES-T and its brethren also count as space weather trackers, Sullivan says, since some of their sensors are pointed upward. The new satellite will watch for the sun to fling giant blobs of charged particles, and track their impacts if they collide with the Earth’s magnetic field—a phenomenon often called a geomagnetic storm. The spacecraft comes equipped with two sun-focused ultraviolet and x-ray sensors, while another sensor and a magnetometer monitor the number of electrons and protons and the magnetic field around the satellite. Detecting a sudden fluctuation among those could be a sign that satellites and astronauts in lower orbits are about to get hit by a solar storm.

    As the GOES spacecraft beam down their images and data, NOAA makes them freely and publicly available, Huff says. “That’s exciting as well: People don’t have to go through emergency management officials; they can actually go to NOAA’s websites and look directly at the imagery themselves,” she says.

    On Tuesday, GOES-T is expected to launch under the gaze of its east-looking sibling, which will help monitor conditions from space. The weather looks good so far, though if for some reason the launch can’t happen during its planned two-hour window, NASA will try again the following afternoon. The launch will be aired live on NASA TV.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 2:00 pm on January 17, 2022 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New research may help scientists unravel the physics of the solar wind", , Space Weather, The School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (US), , The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering (US)   

    From The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering (US) and The School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (US): “New research may help scientists unravel the physics of the solar wind” 

    From The University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering (US)




    The School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (US)



    The University of Minnesota Twin Cities (US)


    Understanding the solar wind can help scientists predict how it will affect Earth’s satellites and astronauts in space.

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab (US).

    A new study led by University of Minnesota Twin Cities researchers, using data from NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, provides insight into what generates and accelerates the solar wind, a stream of charged particles released from the sun’s corona. Understanding how the solar wind works can help scientists predict “space weather,” or the response to solar activity—such as solar flares—that can impact both astronauts in space and much of the technology people on Earth depend on.

    The paper is published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    The scientists used data gathered from Parker Solar Probe, which launched in 2018 with the goal to help scientists understand what heats the Sun’s corona (the outer atmosphere of the sun) and generates the solar wind. To answer these questions, scientists need to understand the ways in which energy flows from the sun. The latest round of data was obtained in August 2021 at a distance of 4.8 million miles from the sun—the closest a spacecraft has ever been to the star.

    Previous research has indicated that in the solar wind, at distances from about 35 solar radii (one solar radius is a little more than 432,000 miles) out to the Earth’s orbit at about 215 solar radii, electromagnetic waves called “whistler” waves help regulate the heat flux, one form of energy flow. In this new study, the University of Minnesota-led research team discovered that in a region closer to the sun, inside around 28 solar radii, there are no whistler waves.

    Instead, the researchers saw a different kind of wave that was electrostatic instead of electromagnetic. And in that same region, they noticed something else: the electrons showed the effect of an electric field created in part by the pull of the sun’s gravity, similar to what happens at the Earth’s poles where a “polar wind” is accelerated.

    “What we found is that when we get inside 28 solar radii, we lose the whistlers. That means the whistlers can’t be doing anything to control the heat flux in that region,” said Cynthia Cattell, lead author on the paper and a professor in The School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities (US). “This result was very, very surprising to people. It has impacts not only for understanding the solar wind and the winds of other stars, but it’s also important for understanding the heat flux of a lot of other astrophysical systems to which we can’t send satellites—things like how star systems form.”

    Learning about the solar wind is also important to scientists for other reasons. For one, it can disturb earth’s magnetic field, generating “space weather” events that can make satellites malfunction, impact communication and GPS signals, and cause power outages on Earth at northern latitudes like Minnesota. The energetic particles that propagate through the solar wind can also be harmful to astronauts traveling in space.

    “Scientists want to be able to predict space weather,” Cattell explained. “And if you don’t understand the details of energy flow close to the sun, then you can’t predict how fast the solar wind will be moving or what its density will be when it reaches Earth. These are some of the properties that determine how solar activity affects us.”

    In late 2024, the Parker Solar Probe will fly to an even closer distance of 3.8 million miles from the sun. Moving forward, Cattell and her colleagues are excited to see the next round of data from the spacecraft. Their next goal will be to figure out why this absence of whistler waves exists so close to the sun, how the electrons accelerated by the gravity-associated electric field might excite other waves, and how that impacts the solar wind.

    In addition to Cattell, the research team included University of Minnesota School of Physics and Astronomy researchers Elizabeth Hanson, John Dombeck, research director Keith Goetz, and Ph.D. alumnus Mike Johnson; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US) researcher Aaron Breneman; The University of Iowa (US) associate professor Jasper Halekas; The University of California-Berkeley (US) professor Stuart Bale, The University of California-Berkeley (US) Space Sciences Laboratory associate researcher Marc Pulupa, project scientist David Larson, and assistant researcher Phyllis Whittlesey; The University of Orléans [Université d’Orléans](FR) professor Thierry Dudok de Wit; The West Virginia University(US) assistant professor Katherine Goodrich; The University of Colorado-Boulder (US) assistant professor David Malaspina; The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics(US) researchers Tony Case and Michael Stevens; and The University of Michigan(US) professor Justin C. Kasper.

    The research was funded by NASA, and the simulation work was supported by the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. Parker Solar Probe is part of NASA’s Living with a Star program to explore aspects of the Sun-Earth system that directly affect life and society. The program is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center for the Heliophysics Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, built and operates the Parker Solar Probe spacecraft and manages the mission for NASA.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition


    The College of Science and Engineering (CSE) is one of the colleges of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On July 1, 2010, the college was officially renamed from the Institute of Technology (IT). It was created in 1935 by bringing together the University’s programs in engineering, mining, architecture, and chemistry. Today, CSE contains 12 departments and 24 research centers that focus on engineering, the physical sciences, and mathematics.


    Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics
    Biomedical Engineering
    Chemical Engineering and Materials Science
    Civil, Environmental, and GeoEngineering
    Computer Science and Engineering
    Earth Sciences (formerly called Geology and Geophysics)
    Electrical and Computer Engineering
    Industrial and Systems Engineering
    Mechanical Engineering
    Physics and Astronomy
    Additionally, CSE pairs with other departments at the University to offer degree-granting programs in:
    Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering, with CFANS (formerly two departments: Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering, and Bio-based Products)
    And two other CSE units grant advanced degrees:
    Technological Leadership Institute (formerly Center for the Development of Technological Leadership)
    History of Science and Technology

    Research centers

    BioTechnology Institute
    Characterization Facility
    Charles Babbage Institute – CBI website
    Digital Technology Center
    William I. Fine Theoretical Physics Institute
    Industrial Partnership for Research in Interfacial and Materials Engineering
    Institute for Mathematics and its Applications
    Minnesota Nano Center
    NSF Engineering Research Center for Compact and Efficient Fluid Power
    NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
    NSF Multi-Axial Subassemblage Testing (MAST) System
    NSF National Center for Earth-surface Dynamics (NCED)
    The Polar Geospatial Center
    Center for Transportation Studies
    University of Minnesota Supercomputing Institute
    GroupLens Center for Social and Human-Centered Computing

    Educational centers

    History of Science and Technology
    School of Mathematics Center for (K-12) Educational Programs
    Technological Leadership Institute
    UNITE Distributed Learning


    The University of Minnesota Twin Cities is a public research university in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, MN. The Twin Cities campus comprises locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) apart, and the St. Paul location is in neighboring Falcon Heights. The Twin Cities campus is the oldest and largest in The University of Minnesota (US) system and has the sixth-largest main campus student body in the United States, with 51,327 students in 2019-20. It is the flagship institution of the University of Minnesota System, and is organized into 19 colleges, schools, and other major academic units.

    The Minnesota Territorial Legislature drafted a charter for The University of Minnesota as a territorial university in 1851, seven years before Minnesota became a state. Today, the university is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. The University of Minnesota is a member of The Association of American Universities (US) and is ranked 17th in research activity, with $954 million in research and development expenditures in the fiscal year 2018. In 2001, the University of Minnesota was included in a list of Public Ivy universities, which includes publicly funded universities thought to provide a quality of education comparable to that of the Ivy League.

    University of Minnesota faculty, alumni, and researchers have won 26 Nobel Prizes and three Pulitzer Prizes. Among its alumni, the university counts 25 Rhodes Scholars, seven Marshall Scholars, 20 Truman Scholars, and 127 Fulbright recipients. The University of Minnesota also has Guggenheim Fellowship, Carnegie Fellowship, and MacArthur Fellowship holders, as well as past and present graduates and faculty belonging to The American Academy of Arts and Sciences (US), The National Academy of Sciences (US), The National Academy of Medicine (US), and The National Academy of Engineering(US). Notable University of Minnesota alumni include two vice presidents of the United States, Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale, and Bob Dylan, who received the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature.

    The Minnesota Golden Gophers compete in 21 intercollegiate sports in the NCAA Division I Big Ten Conference and have won 29 national championships. As of 2021, Minnesota’s current and former students have won a total of 76 Olympic medals.

    The University of Minnesota was founded in Minneapolis in 1851 as a college preparatory school, seven years prior to Minnesota’s statehood. It struggled in its early years and relied on donations to stay open from donors including South Carolina Governor William Aiken Jr.

    In 1867, the university received land grant status through the Morrill Act of 1862.

    An 1876 donation from flour miller John S. Pillsbury is generally credited with saving the school. Since then, Pillsbury has become known as “The Father of the University.” Pillsbury Hall is named in his honor.


    The university is organized into 19 colleges, schools, and other major academic units:

    Center for Allied Health Programs
    College of Biological Sciences
    College of Continuing and Professional Studies
    School of Dentistry
    College of Design
    College of Education and Human Development
    College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
    Graduate School
    Law School
    College of Liberal Arts
    Carlson School of Management
    Medical School
    School of Nursing
    College of Pharmacy
    Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs
    School of Public Health
    College of Science and Engineering
    College of Veterinary Medicine

    Institutes and centers

    Six university-wide interdisciplinary centers and institutes work across collegiate lines:

    Center for Cognitive Sciences
    Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment, and the Life Sciences
    Institute for Advanced Study, University of Minnesota
    Institute for Translational Neuroscience
    Institute on the Environment
    Minnesota Population Center

    In 2021, the University of Minnesota was ranked as 40th best university in the world by The Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), which assesses academic and research performance. The same 2021 ranking by subject placed The University of Minnesota’s ecology program as 2nd best in the world, its management program as 10th best, its biotechnology program as 11th best, mechanical engineering and medical technology programs as 14th best, law and psychology programs as 19th best, and veterinary sciences program as 20th best. The Center for World University Rankings (CWUR) for 2021-22 ranked Minnesota 46th in the world and 26th in the United States. The 2021 Nature Index, which assesses the institutions that dominate high quality research output, ranked Minnesota 53rd in the world based on research publication data from 2020. U.S. News and World Report ranked Minnesota as the 47th best global university for 2021. The 2022 Times Higher Education World University Rankings placed Minnesota 86th worldwide, based primarily on teaching, research, knowledge transfer and international outlook.

    In 2021, The University of Minnesota was ranked as the 24th best university in the United States by The Academic Ranking of World Universities, and 20th in the United States in Washington Monthly’s 2021 National University Rankings. The University of Minnesota’s undergraduate program was ranked 68th among national universities by U.S. News and World Report for 2022, and 26th in the nation among public colleges and universities. The same publication ranked The University of Minnesota’s graduate Carlson School of Management as 28th in the nation among business schools, and 6th in the nation for its information systems graduate program. Other graduate schools ranked highly by U.S. News and World Report for 2022 include The University of Minnesota Law School at 22nd, The University of Minnesota Medical School, which was 4th for family medicine and 5th for primary care, The University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, which ranked 3rd, The Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, which ranked 9th, The University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development, which ranked 10th for education psychology and special education, and The University of Minnesota School of Public Health, which ranked 10th.

    In 2019, The Center for Measuring University Performance ranked The University of Minnesota 16th in the nation in terms of total research, 29th in endowment assets, 22nd in annual giving, 28th in the number of National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine memberships, 18th in its number of faculty awards, and 14th in its number of National Merit Scholars. Minnesota is listed as a “Public Ivy” in 2001 Greenes’ Guides The Public Ivies: America’s Flagship Public Universities.



    The Minnesota Daily has been published twice a week during the normal school season since the fall semester 2016. It is printed weekly during the summer. The Daily is operated by an autonomous organization run entirely by students. It was first published on May 1, 1900. Besides everyday news coverage, the paper has also published special issues, such as the Grapevine Awards, Ski-U-Mah, the Bar & Beer Guide, Sex-U-Mah, and others.

    A long-defunct but fondly remembered humor magazine, Ski-U-Mah, was published from about 1930 to 1950. It launched the career of novelist and scriptwriter Max Shulman.

    A relative newcomer to the university’s print media community is The Wake Student Magazine, a weekly that covers UMN-related stories and provides a forum for student expression. It was founded in November 2001 in an effort to diversify campus media and achieved student group status in February 2002. Students from many disciplines do all of the reporting, writing, editing, illustration, photography, layout, and business management for the publication. The magazine was founded by James DeLong and Chris Ruen. The Wake was named the nation’s best campus publication (2006) by The Independent Press Association.

    Additionally, The Wake publishes Liminal, a literary journal begun in 2005. Liminal was created in the absence of an undergraduate literary journal and continues to bring poetry and prose to the university community.

    The Wake has faced a number of challenges during its existence, due in part to the reliance on student fees funding. In April 2004, after the Student Services Fees Committee had initially declined to fund it, the needed $60,000 in funding was restored, allowing the magazine to continue publishing. It faced further challenges in 2005, when its request for additional funding to publish weekly was denied and then partially restored.

    In 2005 conservatives on campus began formulating a new monthly magazine named The Minnesota Republic. The first issue was released in February 2006, and funding by student service fees started in September 2006.


    The campus radio station, KUOM “Radio K,” broadcasts an eclectic variety of independent music during the day on 770 kHz AM. Its 5,000-watt signal has a range of 80 miles (130 km), but shuts down at dusk because of Federal Communications Commission regulations. In 2003, the station added a low-power (8-watt) signal on 106.5 MHz FM overnight and on weekends. In 2005, a 10-watt translator began broadcasting from Falcon Heights on 100.7 FM at all times. Radio K also streams its content at http://www.radiok.org. With roots in experimental transmissions that began before World War I, the station received the first AM broadcast license in the state on January 13, 1922, and began broadcasting as WLB, changing to the KUOM call sign about two decades later. The station had an educational format until 1993, when it merged with a smaller campus-only music station to become what is now known as Radio K. A small group of full-time employees are joined by over 20 part-time student employees who oversee the station. Most of the on-air talent consists of student volunteers.


    Some television programs made on campus have been broadcast on local PBS station KTCI channel 17. Several episodes of Great Conversations have been made since 2002, featuring one-on-one discussions between University faculty and experts brought in from around the world. Tech Talk was a show meant to help people who feel intimidated by modern technology, including cellular phones and computers.

  • richardmitnick 2:13 pm on December 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "'Swarm' and 'Cluster' get to the bottom of geomagnetic storms", "Bursty Bulk Flows" are directly connected to abrupt changes in the magnetic field near Earth’s surface which can cause damage to pipelines and electrical power lines., "Swarm" satellites orbit much closer to Earth and are used largely to understand how our magnetic field is generated by measuring precisely the magnetic signals that stem from Earth’s core; mantle; , ESA Heliophysics Observatory, ESA’s unique four-spacecraft "Cluster" mission has been revealing the secrets of our magnetic environment since 2000., , Space Weather, Space weather can play havoc with the magnetosphere driving highly energetic particles and currents around the system disrupting space-based hardware; ground-based communication networks; power system, , The magnetosphere is a teardrop-shaped region in space that begins some 65 000 km from Earth on the day side and extends to over 6 000 000 km on the night side., The magnetosphere is formed through interactions between Earth’s magnetic field and supersonic wind flowing from the Sun., The notion of living in a bubble is usually associated with negative connotations but all life on Earth is dependent on the safe bubble created by our magnetic field., The structure of Earth's magnetosphere is sensitive to variations in the solar wind-the stream of electrically charged particles released by the Sun.   

    From The European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) : “‘Swarm’ and ‘Cluster’ get to the bottom of geomagnetic storms” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    European Space Agency – United Space in Europe (EU)

    From The European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)


    The notion of living in a bubble is usually associated with negative connotations but all life on Earth is dependent on the safe bubble created by our magnetic field. Understanding how the field is generated, how it protects us and how it sometimes gives way to charged particles from the solar wind is not just a matter of scientific interest, but also a matter of safety. Using information from ESA’s “Cluster” and “Swarm” missions along with measurements from the ground, scientists have, for the first time, been able to confirm that curiously named bursty bulk flows are directly connected to abrupt changes in the magnetic field near Earth’s surface which can cause damage to pipelines and electrical power lines.

    ESA/Cluster quartet.



    The magnetic field and electric currents in and around Earth generate complex forces that have immeasurable impact on every day life. The field can be thought of as a huge bubble, protecting us from cosmic radiation and charged particles that bombard Earth in solar winds. © ESA/ATG medialab.

    Bursty bulk flows linked to magnetic field perturbations near Earth.

    The magnetosphere is a teardrop-shaped region in space that begins some 65 000 km from Earth on the day side and extends to over 6 000 000 km on the night side. It is formed through interactions between Earth’s magnetic field and supersonic wind flowing from the Sun.

    Magnetosphere of Earth, original bitmap from NASA. SVG rendering by Aaron Kaase.

    These interactions are extremely dynamic and comprise complicated magnetic field configurations and electric current systems. Certain solar conditions-known as space weather-can play havoc with the magnetosphere by driving highly energetic particles and currents around the system sometimes disrupting space-based hardware; ground-based communication networks; and power systems.

    In an elliptical orbit around Earth, up to 100 000 km away, ESA’s unique four-spacecraft “Cluster” mission has been revealing the secrets of our magnetic environment since 2000. Remarkably, the mission is still in excellent health and is still enabling new discoveries in the field of heliophysics – the science examining the relationship between the Sun and bodies in the Solar System, in this case, Earth.

    Launched in 2013, ESA’s trio of “Swarm” satellites orbit much closer to Earth and are used largely to understand how our magnetic field is generated by measuring precisely the magnetic signals that stem from Earth’s core; mantle; crust; and oceans; as well as from the ionosphere and magnetosphere. However, Swarm is also leading to new insights into weather in space.

    The complementarity of these two missions, forming part of the ESA Heliophysics Observatory, gives scientists a unique opportunity to dig deep into Earth’s magnetosphere and further understand the risks of space weather.

    In a paper published in Geophysical Research Letters, scientists describe how they used data from both Cluster and Swarm along with measurements from ground-based instruments to examine the connection between solar storms, bursty bulk flows in the inner magnetosphere and perturbations in the ground level magnetic field which drive ‘geomagnetically induced currents’ on and below Earth’s surface.

    The theory was that intense changes in the geomagnetic field driving geomagnetically induced currents are associated with currents flowing along the magnetic field direction, driven by bursty bulk flows, which are fast bursts of ions typically travelling at more than 150 km per second. These field-aligned currents link the ionosphere and magnetosphere and pass through the locations of both the Cluster and Swarm. Until now this theory had not been confirmed.

    Malcolm Dunlop, from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK, explained, “We used the example of a solar storm in 2015 for our research.

    STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell in Oxfordshire, UK.

    Data from Cluster allowed us to examine bursty bulk flows – bursts of particles in the magnetotail – which contribute to large-scale convection of material towards Earth during geomagnetically active times, and which are associated with features in the northern lights known as auroral streamers. Data from Swarm showed corresponding large perturbations closer to Earth associated with connecting field-aligned currents from the outer regions containing the flows.

    “Together with other measurements taken from Earth’s surface, we were able to confirm that intense magnetic field perturbations near Earth are connected to the arrival of bursty bulk flows further out in space.”

    Magnetic reconnection in Earth’s magnetosphere.
    This animation shows the sequence of events that give rise to magnetic reconnection in Earth’s magnetosphere and, subsequently, to bright aurorae close to Earth’s polar regions.

    The structure of Earth’s magnetosphere is sensitive to variations in the solar wind-the stream of electrically charged particles released by the Sun. When the solar wind changes in such a way as to invert the orientation of the interplanetary magnetic field, the tail of the magnetosphere gets compressed and magnetic reconnection may take place there.

    Two flows of plasma with anti-parallel magnetic fields are pushed together, flowing in from above and below and creating a thin current sheet. As plasma keeps flowing towards this sheet, particles are accelerated and eventually released via two symmetric jets. This creates an X-shaped transition region, with a ‘separatrix’ region that divides the inflowing plasma from the outflows of highly energetic particles.

    As a result of magnetic reconnection, two powerful streams of highly-energetic plasma are launched both towards Earth and in the opposite direction. This is one of the mechanisms through which plasma particles can infiltrate the upper layer of Earth’s atmosphere – the ionosphere – producing breathtaking aurorae but also disturbing telecommunication networks and GPS. © ESA/ATG medialab.

    ESA’s Swarm mission manager, Anja Strømme, added, “It’s thanks to having both missions extended well beyond their planned lives, and hence are having both missions in orbit simultaneously, that allowed us to realise these findings.”

    While this scientific discovery might appear somewhat academic, there are real benefits for society.

    The Sun bathes our planet with the light and heat to sustain life, but it also bombards us with dangerous charged particles in the solar wind. These charged particles can damage communication networks and navigation systems such as GPS, and satellites – all of which we rely on for services and information in our daily lives.

    As the paper discusses, these storms can affect Earth’s surface and subsurface, leading to power outages, such as the major blackout that Quebec in Canada suffered in 1989.

    Space weather refers to the environmental conditions in space as influenced by solar activity.

    In Europe’s economy today, numerous sectors can be affected by space weather. These range from space-based telecommunications, broadcasting, weather services and navigation, through to power distribution and terrestrial communications, especially at northern latitudes.

    One significant influence of solar activity is seen in disturbances in satellite navigation services, like Galileo, due to space weather effects on the upper atmosphere. This in turn can affect aviation, road transport, shipping and any other activities that depend on precise positioning.

    For satellites in orbit, the effects of space weather can be seen in the degradation of communications, performance, reliability and overall lifetime. For example, the solar panels that convert sunlight to electrical power on most spacecraft will steadily generate less power over the course of a mission, and this degradation must be taken into account in designing the satellite.

    In addition, increased radiation due to space weather may lead to increased health risks for astronauts, both today on board the International Space Station in low orbit and in future on voyages to the Moon or Mars.

    On Earth, commercial airlines may also experience damage to aircraft electronics and increased radiation doses to crews (at long-haul aircraft altitudes) during large space weather events. Space weather effects on ground can include damage and disruption to power distribution networks, increased pipeline corrosion and degradation of radio communications. ESA/Science Office, © CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.

    With a rapidly growing infrastructure, both on the ground and in space, that supports modern life, there is an increasing need to understand and monitor weather in space to adopt appropriate mitigation strategies.

    Alexi Glover, from ESA’s Space Weather Office, said, “These new results help further our understanding of processes within the magnetosphere which may lead to potentially hazardous space weather conditions. Understanding these phenomena and their potential effects is essential to develop reliable services for end users operating potentially sensitive infrastructure.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC (NL) in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA’s space flight programme includes human spaceflight (mainly through participation in the International Space Station program); the launch and operation of uncrewed exploration missions to other planets and the Moon; Earth observation, science and telecommunication; designing launch vehicles; and maintaining a major spaceport, the The Guiana Space Centre [Centre Spatial Guyanais; CSG also called Europe’s Spaceport) at Kourou, French Guiana. The main European launch vehicle Ariane 5 is operated through Arianespace with ESA sharing in the costs of launching and further developing this launch vehicle. The agency is also working with NASA to manufacture the Orion Spacecraft service module that will fly on the Space Launch System.

    The agency’s facilities are distributed among the following centres:

    ESA European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) (NL)in Noordwijk, Netherlands;
    ESA Centre for Earth Observation [ESRIN] (IT) in Frascati, Italy;
    ESA Mission Control ESA European Space Operations Center [ESOC](DE) is in Darmstadt, Germany;
    ESA -European Astronaut Centre [EAC] trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany;
    European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) (UK), a research institute created in 2009, is located in Harwell, England;
    ESA – European Space Astronomy Centre [ESAC] (ES) is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Madrid, Spain.
    European Space Agency Science Programme is a long-term programme of space science and space exploration missions.


    After World War II, many European scientists left Western Europe in order to work with the United States. Although the 1950s boom made it possible for Western European countries to invest in research and specifically in space-related activities, Western European scientists realized solely national projects would not be able to compete with the two main superpowers. In 1958, only months after the Sputnik shock, Edoardo Amaldi (Italy) and Pierre Auger (France), two prominent members of the Western European scientific community, met to discuss the foundation of a common Western European space agency. The meeting was attended by scientific representatives from eight countries, including Harrie Massey (United Kingdom).

    The Western European nations decided to have two agencies: one concerned with developing a launch system, ELDO (European Launch Development Organization), and the other the precursor of the European Space Agency, ESRO (European Space Research Organisation). The latter was established on 20 March 1964 by an agreement signed on 14 June 1962. From 1968 to 1972, ESRO launched seven research satellites.

    ESA in its current form was founded with the ESA Convention in 1975, when ESRO was merged with ELDO. ESA had ten founding member states: Belgium, Denmark, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. These signed the ESA Convention in 1975 and deposited the instruments of ratification by 1980, when the convention came into force. During this interval the agency functioned in a de facto fashion. ESA launched its first major scientific mission in 1975, Cos-B, a space probe monitoring gamma-ray emissions in the universe, which was first worked on by ESRO.

    ESA50 Logo large

    Later activities

    ESA collaborated with National Aeronautics Space Agency on the International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE), the world’s first high-orbit telescope, which was launched in 1978 and operated successfully for 18 years.

    ESA Infrared Space Observatory.

    European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US) Solar Orbiter annotated.

    A number of successful Earth-orbit projects followed, and in 1986 ESA began Giotto, its first deep-space mission, to study the comets Halley and Grigg–Skjellerup. Hipparcos, a star-mapping mission, was launched in 1989 and in the 1990s SOHO, Ulysses and the Hubble Space Telescope were all jointly carried out with NASA. Later scientific missions in cooperation with NASA include the Cassini–Huygens space probe, to which ESA contributed by building the Titan landing module Huygens.

    ESA/Huygens Probe from Cassini landed on Titan.

    As the successor of ELDO, ESA has also constructed rockets for scientific and commercial payloads. Ariane 1, launched in 1979, carried mostly commercial payloads into orbit from 1984 onward. The next two versions of the Ariane rocket were intermediate stages in the development of a more advanced launch system, the Ariane 4, which operated between 1988 and 2003 and established ESA as the world leader in commercial space launches in the 1990s. Although the succeeding Ariane 5 experienced a failure on its first flight, it has since firmly established itself within the heavily competitive commercial space launch market with 82 successful launches until 2018. The successor launch vehicle of Ariane 5, the Ariane 6, is under development and is envisioned to enter service in the 2020s.

    The beginning of the new millennium saw ESA become, along with agencies like National Aeronautics Space Agency(US), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Indian Space Research Organisation, the Canadian Space Agency(CA) and Roscosmos(RU), one of the major participants in scientific space research. Although ESA had relied on co-operation with NASA in previous decades, especially the 1990s, changed circumstances (such as tough legal restrictions on information sharing by the United States military) led to decisions to rely more on itself and on co-operation with Russia. A 2011 press issue thus stated:

    “Russia is ESA’s first partner in its efforts to ensure long-term access to space. There is a framework agreement between ESA and the government of the Russian Federation on cooperation and partnership in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and cooperation is already underway in two different areas of launcher activity that will bring benefits to both partners.”

    Notable ESA programmes include SMART-1, a probe testing cutting-edge space propulsion technology, the Mars Express and Venus Express missions, as well as the development of the Ariane 5 rocket and its role in the ISS partnership. ESA maintains its scientific and research projects mainly for astronomy-space missions such as Corot, launched on 27 December 2006, a milestone in the search for exoplanets.

    On 21 January 2019, ArianeGroup and Arianespace announced a one-year contract with ESA to study and prepare for a mission to mine the Moon for lunar regolith.


    The treaty establishing the European Space Agency reads:

    The purpose of the Agency shall be to provide for and to promote, for exclusively peaceful purposes, cooperation among European States in space research and technology and their space applications, with a view to their being used for scientific purposes and for operational space applications systems…

    ESA is responsible for setting a unified space and related industrial policy, recommending space objectives to the member states, and integrating national programs like satellite development, into the European program as much as possible.

    Jean-Jacques Dordain – ESA’s Director General (2003–2015) – outlined the European Space Agency’s mission in a 2003 interview:

    “Today space activities have pursued the benefit of citizens, and citizens are asking for a better quality of life on Earth. They want greater security and economic wealth, but they also want to pursue their dreams, to increase their knowledge, and they want younger people to be attracted to the pursuit of science and technology. I think that space can do all of this: it can produce a higher quality of life, better security, more economic wealth, and also fulfill our citizens’ dreams and thirst for knowledge, and attract the young generation. This is the reason space exploration is an integral part of overall space activities. It has always been so, and it will be even more important in the future.”


    According to the ESA website, the activities are:

    Observing the Earth
    Human Spaceflight
    Space Science
    Space Engineering & Technology
    Telecommunications & Integrated Applications
    Preparing for the Future
    Space for Climate


    Copernicus Programme
    Cosmic Vision
    Horizon 2000
    Living Planet Programme


    Every member country must contribute to these programmes:

    Technology Development Element Programme
    Science Core Technology Programme
    General Study Programme
    European Component Initiative


    Depending on their individual choices the countries can contribute to the following programmes, listed according to:

    Earth Observation
    Human Spaceflight and Exploration
    Space Situational Awareness


    ESA has formed partnerships with universities. ESA_LAB@ refers to research laboratories at universities. Currently there are ESA_LAB@

    Technische Universität Darmstadt
    École des hautes études commerciales de Paris (HEC Paris)
    Université de recherche Paris Sciences et Lettres
    University of Central Lancashire

    Membership and contribution to ESA

    By 2015, ESA was an intergovernmental organisation of 22 member states. Member states participate to varying degrees in the mandatory (25% of total expenditures in 2008) and optional space programmes (75% of total expenditures in 2008). The 2008 budget amounted to €3.0 billion whilst the 2009 budget amounted to €3.6 billion. The total budget amounted to about €3.7 billion in 2010, €3.99 billion in 2011, €4.02 billion in 2012, €4.28 billion in 2013, €4.10 billion in 2014 and €4.33 billion in 2015. English is the main language within ESA. Additionally, official documents are also provided in German and documents regarding the Spacelab are also provided in Italian. If found appropriate, the agency may conduct its correspondence in any language of a member state.

    Non-full member states
    Since 2016, Slovenia has been an associated member of the ESA.

    Latvia became the second current associated member on 30 June 2020, when the Association Agreement was signed by ESA Director Jan Wörner and the Minister of Education and Science of Latvia, Ilga Šuplinska in Riga. The Saeima ratified it on July 27. Previously associated members were Austria, Norway and Finland, all of which later joined ESA as full members.

    Since 1 January 1979, Canada has had the special status of a Cooperating State within ESA. By virtue of this accord, the Canadian Space Agency takes part in ESA’s deliberative bodies and decision-making and also in ESA’s programmes and activities. Canadian firms can bid for and receive contracts to work on programmes. The accord has a provision ensuring a fair industrial return to Canada. The most recent Cooperation Agreement was signed on 15 December 2010 with a term extending to 2020. For 2014, Canada’s annual assessed contribution to the ESA general budget was €6,059,449 (CAD$8,559,050). For 2017, Canada has increased its annual contribution to €21,600,000 (CAD$30,000,000).


    After the decision of the ESA Council of 21/22 March 2001, the procedure for accession of the European states was detailed as described the document titled The Plan for European Co-operating States (PECS). Nations that want to become a full member of ESA do so in 3 stages. First a Cooperation Agreement is signed between the country and ESA. In this stage, the country has very limited financial responsibilities. If a country wants to co-operate more fully with ESA, it signs a European Cooperating State (ECS) Agreement. The ECS Agreement makes companies based in the country eligible for participation in ESA procurements. The country can also participate in all ESA programmes, except for the Basic Technology Research Programme. While the financial contribution of the country concerned increases, it is still much lower than that of a full member state. The agreement is normally followed by a Plan For European Cooperating State (or PECS Charter). This is a 5-year programme of basic research and development activities aimed at improving the nation’s space industry capacity. At the end of the 5-year period, the country can either begin negotiations to become a full member state or an associated state or sign a new PECS Charter.

    During the Ministerial Meeting in December 2014, ESA ministers approved a resolution calling for discussions to begin with Israel, Australia and South Africa on future association agreements. The ministers noted that “concrete cooperation is at an advanced stage” with these nations and that “prospects for mutual benefits are existing”.

    A separate space exploration strategy resolution calls for further co-operation with the United States, Russia and China on “LEO exploration, including a continuation of ISS cooperation and the development of a robust plan for the coordinated use of space transportation vehicles and systems for exploration purposes, participation in robotic missions for the exploration of the Moon, the robotic exploration of Mars, leading to a broad Mars Sample Return mission in which Europe should be involved as a full partner, and human missions beyond LEO in the longer term.”

    Relationship with the European Union

    The political perspective of the European Union (EU) was to make ESA an agency of the EU by 2014, although this date was not met. The EU member states provide most of ESA’s funding, and they are all either full ESA members or observers.


    At the time ESA was formed, its main goals did not encompass human space flight; rather it considered itself to be primarily a scientific research organisation for uncrewed space exploration in contrast to its American and Soviet counterparts. It is therefore not surprising that the first non-Soviet European in space was not an ESA astronaut on a European space craft; it was Czechoslovak Vladimír Remek who in 1978 became the first non-Soviet or American in space (the first man in space being Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union) – on a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft, followed by the Pole Mirosław Hermaszewski and East German Sigmund Jähn in the same year. This Soviet co-operation programme, known as Intercosmos, primarily involved the participation of Eastern bloc countries. In 1982, however, Jean-Loup Chrétien became the first non-Communist Bloc astronaut on a flight to the Soviet Salyut 7 space station.

    Because Chrétien did not officially fly into space as an ESA astronaut, but rather as a member of the French CNES astronaut corps, the German Ulf Merbold is considered the first ESA astronaut to fly into space. He participated in the STS-9 Space Shuttle mission that included the first use of the European-built Spacelab in 1983. STS-9 marked the beginning of an extensive ESA/NASA joint partnership that included dozens of space flights of ESA astronauts in the following years. Some of these missions with Spacelab were fully funded and organizationally and scientifically controlled by ESA (such as two missions by Germany and one by Japan) with European astronauts as full crew members rather than guests on board. Beside paying for Spacelab flights and seats on the shuttles, ESA continued its human space flight co-operation with the Soviet Union and later Russia, including numerous visits to Mir.

    During the latter half of the 1980s, European human space flights changed from being the exception to routine and therefore, in 1990, the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany was established. It selects and trains prospective astronauts and is responsible for the co-ordination with international partners, especially with regard to the International Space Station. As of 2006, the ESA astronaut corps officially included twelve members, including nationals from most large European countries except the United Kingdom.

    In the summer of 2008, ESA started to recruit new astronauts so that final selection would be due in spring 2009. Almost 10,000 people registered as astronaut candidates before registration ended in June 2008. 8,413 fulfilled the initial application criteria. Of the applicants, 918 were chosen to take part in the first stage of psychological testing, which narrowed down the field to 192. After two-stage psychological tests and medical evaluation in early 2009, as well as formal interviews, six new members of the European Astronaut Corps were selected – five men and one woman.

    Cooperation with other countries and organisations

    ESA has signed co-operation agreements with the following states that currently neither plan to integrate as tightly with ESA institutions as Canada, nor envision future membership of ESA: Argentina, Brazil, China, India (for the Chandrayan mission), Russia and Turkey.

    Additionally, ESA has joint projects with the European Union, NASA of the United States and is participating in the International Space Station together with the United States (NASA), Russia and Japan (JAXA).

    European Union
    ESA and EU member states
    ESA-only members
    EU-only members

    ESA is not an agency or body of the European Union (EU), and has non-EU countries (Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom) as members. There are however ties between the two, with various agreements in place and being worked on, to define the legal status of ESA with regard to the EU.

    There are common goals between ESA and the EU. ESA has an EU liaison office in Brussels. On certain projects, the EU and ESA co-operate, such as the upcoming Galileo satellite navigation system. Space policy has since December 2009 been an area for voting in the European Council. Under the European Space Policy of 2007, the EU, ESA and its Member States committed themselves to increasing co-ordination of their activities and programmes and to organising their respective roles relating to space.

    The Lisbon Treaty of 2009 reinforces the case for space in Europe and strengthens the role of ESA as an R&D space agency. Article 189 of the Treaty gives the EU a mandate to elaborate a European space policy and take related measures, and provides that the EU should establish appropriate relations with ESA.

    Former Italian astronaut Umberto Guidoni, during his tenure as a Member of the European Parliament from 2004 to 2009, stressed the importance of the European Union as a driving force for space exploration, “…since other players are coming up such as India and China it is becoming ever more important that Europeans can have an independent access to space. We have to invest more into space research and technology in order to have an industry capable of competing with other international players.”

    The first EU-ESA International Conference on Human Space Exploration took place in Prague on 22 and 23 October 2009. A road map which would lead to a common vision and strategic planning in the area of space exploration was discussed. Ministers from all 29 EU and ESA members as well as members of parliament were in attendance.

    National space organisations of member states:

    The Centre National d’Études Spatiales(FR) (CNES) (National Centre for Space Study) is the French government space agency (administratively, a “public establishment of industrial and commercial character”). Its headquarters are in central Paris. CNES is the main participant on the Ariane project. Indeed, CNES designed and tested all Ariane family rockets (mainly from its centre in Évry near Paris)
    The UK Space Agency is a partnership of the UK government departments which are active in space. Through the UK Space Agency, the partners provide delegates to represent the UK on the various ESA governing bodies. Each partner funds its own programme.
    The Italian Space Agency A.S.I. – Agenzia Spaziale Italiana was founded in 1988 to promote, co-ordinate and conduct space activities in Italy. Operating under the Ministry of the Universities and of Scientific and Technological Research, the agency cooperates with numerous entities active in space technology and with the president of the Council of Ministers. Internationally, the ASI provides Italy’s delegation to the Council of the European Space Agency and to its subordinate bodies.
    The German Aerospace Center (DLR)[Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V.] is the national research centre for aviation and space flight of the Federal Republic of Germany and of other member states in the Helmholtz Association. Its extensive research and development projects are included in national and international cooperative programmes. In addition to its research projects, the centre is the assigned space agency of Germany bestowing headquarters of German space flight activities and its associates.
    The Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial (INTA)(ES) (National Institute for Aerospace Technique) is a Public Research Organization specialised in aerospace research and technology development in Spain. Among other functions, it serves as a platform for space research and acts as a significant testing facility for the aeronautic and space sector in the country.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency(US)

    ESA has a long history of collaboration with NASA. Since ESA’s astronaut corps was formed, the Space Shuttle has been the primary launch vehicle used by ESA’s astronauts to get into space through partnership programmes with NASA. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Spacelab programme was an ESA-NASA joint research programme that had ESA develop and manufacture orbital labs for the Space Shuttle for several flights on which ESA participate with astronauts in experiments.

    In robotic science mission and exploration missions, NASA has been ESA’s main partner. Cassini–Huygens was a joint NASA-ESA mission, along with the Infrared Space Observatory, INTEGRAL, SOHO, and others.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US)/European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/ASI Italian Space Agency [Agenzia Spaziale Italiana](IT) Cassini Spacecraft.

    European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) Integral spacecraft

    European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne](EU)/National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US) SOHO satellite. Launched in 1995.

    Also, the Hubble Space Telescope is a joint project of NASA and ESA.

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US)/European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne] [Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU) Hubble Space Telescope

    Future ESA-NASA joint projects include the James Webb Space Telescope and the proposed Laser Interferometer Space Antenna.

    National Aeronautics Space Agency(USA)/European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne] Canadian Space Agency [Agence Spatiale Canadienne](CA) James Webb Space Telescope annotated. Scheduled for launch in December 2021.

    Gravity is talking. Lisa will listen. Dialogos of Eide.

    The European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US) eLISA space based, the future of gravitational wave research.

    NASA has committed to provide support to ESA’s proposed MarcoPolo-R mission to return an asteroid sample to Earth for further analysis. NASA and ESA will also likely join together for a Mars Sample Return Mission. In October 2020 the ESA entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with NASA to work together on the Artemis program, which will provide an orbiting lunar gateway and also accomplish the first manned lunar landing in 50 years, whose team will include the first woman on the Moon.

    NASA ARTEMIS spacecraft depiction.
    Cooperation with other space agencies

    Since China has started to invest more money into space activities, the Chinese Space Agency(CN) has sought international partnerships. ESA is, beside the Russian Space Agency, one of its most important partners. Two space agencies cooperated in the development of the Double Star Mission. In 2017, ESA sent two astronauts to China for two weeks sea survival training with Chinese astronauts in Yantai, Shandong.

    ESA entered into a major joint venture with Russia in the form of the CSTS, the preparation of French Guiana spaceport for launches of Soyuz-2 rockets and other projects. With India, ESA agreed to send instruments into space aboard the ISRO’s Chandrayaan-1 in 2008. ESA is also co-operating with Japan, the most notable current project in collaboration with JAXA is the BepiColombo mission to Mercury.

    European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency [国立研究開発法人宇宙航空研究開発機構](JP) Bepicolumbo in flight illustration. Artist’s impression of BepiColombo – ESA’s first mission to Mercury. ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will be operated from ESOC Germany.

    ESA’s Mercury Planetary Orbiter (MPO) will be operated from ESOC Germany.

    Speaking to reporters at an air show near Moscow in August 2011, ESA head Jean-Jacques Dordain said ESA and Russia’s Roskosmos space agency would “carry out the first flight to Mars together.”

  • richardmitnick 10:45 pm on December 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A young sun-like star may hold warnings for life on Earth", , , , , , Space Weather, The star EK Draconis which looks like a young version of our sun.,   

    From The University of Colorado-Boulder (US) : “A young sun-like star may hold warnings for life on Earth” 

    U Colorado

    From The University of Colorado-Boulder (US)

    Dec. 9, 2021
    Daniel Strain

    Artist’s depiction of the star EK Draconis ejecting a coronal mass ejection as two planets orbit. (Credit: The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan[[国立天文台](JP))

    Astronomers spying on a stellar system located dozens of lightyears from Earth have, for the first time, observed a troubling fireworks show: A star named EK Draconis ejected a massive burst of energy and charged particles in an event that was much more powerful than anything scientists have seen in our own solar system.

    The researchers, including astrophysicist Yuta Notsu of the University of Colorado Boulder, published their results Dec. 9 in the journal Nature Astronomy.

    The study explores a stellar phenomenon called a “coronal mass ejection,” sometimes known as a solar storm.

    A coronal mass ejection seen erupting from the surface of Earth’s sun in 2015. (Credit: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US))

    Notsu explained the sun shoots out these sorts of eruptions on a regular basis. They’re made up of clouds of extremely hot particles, or plasma that can hurtle through space at speeds of millions of miles per hour. And they’re potentially bad news: If a coronal mass ejection hit Earth dead-on, it could fry satellites in orbit and shut down the power grids serving entire cities.

    “Coronal mass ejections can have a serious impact on Earth and human society,” said Notsu, a research associate at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at CU Boulder and The National Science Foundation (US)’s National Solar Observatory.

    Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, DKIST, atop the Haleakala volcano on the Pacific island of Maui, Hawaii, USA, at an altitude of 3,084 m (10,118 ft).

    The new study, led by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan’s Kosuke Namekata—formerly a visiting scholar at CU Boulder—also suggests the ejections can get a lot worse.

    In the research, Namekata, Nostu and their colleagues used telescopes on the ground and in space to peer at EK Draconis, which looks like a young version of the sun. In April 2020, the team observed EK Draconis ejecting a cloud of scorching-hot plasma with a mass in the quadrillions of kilograms—more than 10 times bigger than the most powerful coronal mass ejection ever recorded from a sun-like star.

    The event may serve as a warning of just how dangerous the weather in space can be.

    “This kind of big mass ejection could, theoretically, also occur on our sun,” Notsu said. “This observation may help us to better understand how similar events may have affected Earth and even Mars over billions of years.”

    Superflares erupt

    Notsu explained coronal mass ejections often come right after a star lets loose a flare, or a sudden and bright burst of radiation that can extend far out into space.

    Recent research, however, has suggested that on the sun, this sequence of events may be relatively sedate, at least so far as scientists have observed. . In 2019, for example, Notsu and his colleagues published a study [The Astrophysical Journal] that showed that young sun-like stars around the galaxy seem to experience frequent superflares—like our own solar flares but tens or even hundreds of times more powerful.

    Such a superflare could also happen on Earth’s sun but not very often, maybe once every several thousand years. Still, it got Notsu’s team curious: Could a superflare also lead to an equally super coronal mass ejection?

    “Superflares are much bigger than the flares that we see from the sun,” Notsu said. “So we suspect that they would also produce much bigger mass ejections. But until recently, that was just conjecture.”

    Danger from above

    To find out, the researchers set their sights on EK Draconis. The curious star, Notsu explained, is about the same size as our sun, but, at just 100 million years old, it’s a relative youngster in a cosmic sense.

    “It’s what our sun looked like 4.5 billion years ago,” Notsu said.

    The researchers observed the star for 32 nights in winter and spring 2020 using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and Kyoto University’s SEIMEI Telescope.

    Massachusetts Institute of Technology(US) TESS – Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite replaced the Kepler Space Telescope in search for exoplanets. TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US), and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (US).

    KYOTO UNIVERSITY[京都大学](JP) 3.8-m Seimei telescope.

    And on April 5, Notsu and his colleagues got lucky: The researchers looked on as EK Draconis erupted into a superflare, a really big one. About 30 minutes later, the team observed what appeared to be a coronal mass ejection flying away from the star’s surface. The researchers were able to catch only the first step in that ejection’s life, called the “filament eruption” phase. But even so, it was a monster, moving at a top speed of roughly 1 million miles per hour.

    It may also not bode well for life on Earth: The team’s findings hint that the sun could also be capable of such violent extremes. But don’t hold your breath: like superflares, super coronal mass ejections are probably rare for our getting-on-in-years sun.

    Still, Notsu noted that huge mass ejections may have been much more common in the early years of the solar system. Gigantic coronal mass ejections, in other words, could have helped to shape planets like Earth and Mars into what they look like today.

    “The atmosphere of present-day Mars is very thin compared to Earth’s,” Notsu said. “In the past, we think Mars had a much thicker atmosphere. Coronal mass ejections may help us to understand what happened to the planet over billions of years.”

    Co-authors on the new study include researchers from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, The University of Hyogo [兵庫県立大学](JP), Kyoto University [京都大学](JP), Kobe University [神戸大学](JP), Tokyo Institute of Technology [東京工業大学](JP), The University of Tokyo {東京大学](JP), and Doshisha University [同志社大学](JP).

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Colorado Campus

    As the flagship university of the state of Colorado The University of Colorado-Boulder (US), founded in 1876, five months before Colorado became a state. It is a dynamic community of scholars and learners situated on one of the most spectacular college campuses in the country, and is classified as an R1 University, meaning that it engages in a very high level of research activity. As one of 34 U.S. public institutions belonging to the prestigious Association of American Universities (US)), a selective group of major research universities in North America, – and the only member in the Rocky Mountain region – we have a proud tradition of academic excellence, with five Nobel laureates and more than 50 members of prestigious academic academies.

    University of Colorado-Boulder (US) has blossomed in size and quality since we opened our doors in 1877 – attracting superb faculty, staff, and students and building strong programs in the sciences, engineering, business, law, arts, humanities, education, music, and many other disciplines.

    Today, with our sights set on becoming the standard for the great comprehensive public research universities of the new century, we strive to serve the people of Colorado and to engage with the world through excellence in our teaching, research, creative work, and service.

    In 2015, the university comprised nine colleges and schools and offered over 150 academic programs and enrolled almost 17,000 students. Five Nobel Laureates, nine MacArthur Fellows, and 20 astronauts have been affiliated with CU Boulder as students; researchers; or faculty members in its history. In 2010, the university received nearly $454 million in sponsored research to fund programs like the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics and JILA. CU Boulder has been called a Public Ivy, a group of publicly funded universities considered as providing a quality of education comparable to those of the Ivy League.

    The Colorado Buffaloes compete in 17 varsity sports and are members of the NCAA Division I Pac-12 Conference. The Buffaloes have won 28 national championships: 20 in skiing, seven total in men’s and women’s cross country, and one in football. The university has produced a total of ten Olympic medalists. Approximately 900 students participate in 34 intercollegiate club sports annually as well.

    On March 14, 1876, the Colorado territorial legislature passed an amendment to the state constitution that provided money for the establishment of the University of Colorado in Boulder, the Colorado School of Mines(US) in Golden, and the Colorado State University (US) – College of Agricultural Sciences in Fort Collins.

    Two cities competed for the site of the University of Colorado: Boulder and Cañon City. The consolation prize for the losing city was to be home of the new Colorado State Prison. Cañon City was at a disadvantage as it was already the home of the Colorado Territorial Prison. (There are now six prisons in the Cañon City area.)

    The cornerstone of the building that became Old Main was laid on September 20, 1875. The doors of the university opened on September 5, 1877. At the time, there were few high schools in the state that could adequately prepare students for university work, so in addition to the University, a preparatory school was formed on campus. In the fall of 1877, the student body consisted of 15 students in the college proper and 50 students in the preparatory school. There were 38 men and 27 women, and their ages ranged from 12–23 years.

    During World War II, Colorado was one of 131 colleges and universities nationally that took part in the V-12 Navy College Training Program which offered students a path to a navy commission.

    University of Colorado-Boulder (US) hired its first female professor, Mary Rippon, in 1878. It hired its first African-American professor, Charles H. Nilon, in 1956, and its first African-American librarian, Mildred Nilon, in 1962. Its first African American female graduate, Lucile Berkeley Buchanan, received her degree in 1918.

    Research institutes

    University of Colorado-Boulder’s (US) research mission is supported by eleven research institutes within the university. Each research institute supports faculty from multiple academic departments, allowing institutes to conduct truly multidisciplinary research.

    The Institute for Behavioral Genetics (IBG) is a research institute within the Graduate School dedicated to conducting and facilitating research on the genetic and environmental bases of individual differences in behavior. After its founding in 1967 IBG led the resurging interest in genetic influences on behavior. IBG was the first post-World War II research institute dedicated to research in behavioral genetics. IBG remains one of the top research facilities for research in behavioral genetics, including human behavioral genetics, psychiatric genetics, quantitative genetics, statistical genetics, and animal behavioral genetics.

    The Institute of Cognitive Science (ICS) at CU Boulder promotes interdisciplinary research and training in cognitive science. ICS is highly interdisciplinary; its research focuses on education, language processing, emotion, and higher level cognition using experimental methods. It is home to a state of the art fMRI system used to collect neuroimaging data.

    ATLAS Institute is a center for interdisciplinary research and academic study, where engineering, computer science and robotics are blended with design-oriented topics. Part of CU Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, the institute offers academic programs at the undergraduate, master’s and doctoral levels, and administers research labs, hacker and makerspaces, and a black box experimental performance studio. At the beginning of the 2018–2019 academic year, approximately 1,200 students were enrolled in ATLAS academic programs and the institute sponsored six research labs.[64]

    In addition to IBG, ICS and ATLAS, the university’s other institutes include Biofrontiers Institute, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, Institute of Arctic & Alpine Research (INSTAAR), Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS), JILA, Laboratory for Atmospheric & Space Physics (LASP), Renewable & Sustainable Energy Institute (RASEI), and the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History.

  • richardmitnick 8:52 am on October 26, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Pathfinding Experiment to Study Origins of Solar Energetic Particles", , , , , Space Weather, UVSC Pathfinder — short for Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph Pathfinder, UVSC Pathfinder is unique because it’s combined with a spectrometer that measures ultraviolet light., UVSC Pathfinder will peer at the lowest regions of the Sun’s outer atmosphere-or corona-where SEPs are thought to originate.   

    From NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (US) : “Pathfinding Experiment to Study Origins of Solar Energetic Particles” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    From NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (US)

    Oct 25, 2021

    Lina Tran
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    A joint NASA- Naval Research Laboratory (US) experiment dedicated to studying the origins of solar energetic particles — the Sun’s most dangerous form of radiation — is ready for launch.

    UVSC Pathfinder — short for Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph Pathfinder — will hitch a ride to space aboard STPSat-6, the primary spacecraft of the Space Test Program-3 (STP-3) mission for the Department of Defense.

    UVSC Pathfinder — short for Ultraviolet Spectro-Coronagraph Pathfinder. Credit Leonard Strachan

    STP-3 is scheduled to lift off on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V 551 rocket no earlier than Nov. 22, from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

    Solar energetic particles, or SEPs, are a type of space weather that pose a major challenge to space exploration. A solar particle storm, or SEP event, occurs when the Sun fires energetic particles into space at such high speeds that some reach Earth — 93 million miles away — in less than an hour. Flurries of the powerful particles can wreak havoc with spacecraft and expose astronauts to dangerous radiation.

    UVSC Pathfinder will peer at the lowest regions of the Sun’s outer atmosphere-or corona-where SEPs are thought to originate. While the Sun releases eruptions almost daily when it is most active, there are only about 20 disruptive solar particle storms during any given 11-year solar cycle. Scientists can’t reliably predict which of these will produce SEPs, nor their intensity. Understanding and eventually predicting these solar storms are crucial for enabling future space exploration.

    “It’s a pathfinder because we’re demonstrating new technology and a new way to forecast this type of space weather,” said Leonard Strachan, an astrophysicist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., and the mission’s principal investigator. “Right now, there’s no real way of predicting when these particle storms will happen.”

    A close up of a solar eruption, including a solar flare, a coronal mass ejection, and a solar energetic particle event. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

    Solar eruption 2012 by NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory SDO

    Understanding and predicting SEPs

    UVSC Pathfinder is a coronagraph, a kind of instrument that blocks the Sun’s bright face to reveal the dimmer, surrounding corona. Most coronagraphs have a single aperture with a series of occulters that block the Sun and reduce stray light. The novelty of UVSC Pathfinder is that it uses five separate apertures, each with its own occulter — significantly boosting the signal from the corona.

    In the corona, scientists expect to find the special group of particles that eventually becomes solar energetic particles. Not just any regular particle in the Sun’s atmosphere can be energized to an SEP. Rather, scientists think SEPs come from swarms of seed particles residing in the corona that are already around 10 times hotter and more energetic than their neighbors. Those could come from bright bursts of energy, called flares, or regions of intense magnetic fields in the corona, called current sheets.

    It takes some prior energetic solar activity to fire up the seed particles. Occasionally, the Sun unleashes massive clouds of solar material, called coronal mass ejections. Those explosions can generate a shock ahead of them, like the wave that crests at the front of a speeding boat. “If a coronal mass ejection comes out fast enough” — 600 miles per second at least — “it can produce a shock, which can sweep up these particles,” Strachan explained. “The particles get so much energy from the shock, they become SEPs.”

    Unlike most coronagraphs that take images in visible light, UVSC Pathfinder is unique because it’s combined with a spectrometer that measures ultraviolet light, a kind of light that’s invisible to human eyes. By analyzing the light in the corona, researchers hope to identify when seed particles are present.

    Scientists have routinely observed SEPs from the near-Earth perspective — 93 million miles away from their origin. Since seed particles are only present in the corona, it has been impossible to measure them directly. UVSC Pathfinder aims to observe the elusive particles by remotely sensing their signatures in ultraviolet light. “We know rather little about them,” said Martin Laming, a U.S. Naval Research Laboratory physicist and UVSC Pathfinder’s science lead. “This is really a ground-breaking observation.”

    The impacts of SEP swarms are serious. When it comes to spacecraft, they can fry electronics, corrupt a satellite’s computer programming, damage solar panels, and even disorient a spacecraft’s star tracker, used for navigation. The effect is like driving through a blizzard and getting lost: SEPs fill the star tracker’s view, and losing its ability to orient itself, it spins off orbit.

    To humans, SEPs are dangerous because they can pass through spacecraft or an astronaut’s skin, where they can damage cells or DNA. This damage can increase risk for cancer later in life, or in extreme cases, cause acute radiation sickness in the short-term. (On Earth, our planet’s protective magnetic field and atmosphere shield humans from this harm.) A series of enormous solar flares in August 1972 — in between the Apollo 16 and 17 missions — serves as a reminder of the threat solar activity and radiation poses.

    The UVSC Pathfinder experiment marks a major step toward understanding where SEPs come from and how they evolve as they travel through the solar system. The data will help scientists predict whether a solar explosion could generate problematic SEPs much the way we predict severe weather events on Earth. Forecasts would enable spacecraft operators and astronauts to take steps to mitigate their impacts. “If our thinking is correct, seed particles will be a really important signature of radiation storms to watch out for,” Laming said.

    Images from NASA’s STEREO satellite show a coronal mass ejection followed by a flurry of solar energetic particles. Credits: NASA/STEREO

    NASA/STEREO spacecraft

    Joining NASA’s heliophysics fleet

    UVSC Pathfinder is the latest addition to NASA’s fleet of heliophysics observatories. NASA heliophysics missions study a vast, interconnected system from the Sun to the space surrounding Earth and other planets, and to the farthest limits of the Sun’s constantly flowing stream of solar wind. UVSC Pathfinder provides key information on SEPs, enabling future space exploration.

    The mission’s observations will complement those of two other solar observatories. The new coronagraph will look as close as 865,000 miles from the Sun, while NASA’s Parker Solar Probe and the European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar Orbiter will directly sample the space up to a distance of 3.8 million miles and 26.7 million miles from the Sun, respectively.

    NASA Parker Solar Probe Plus named to honor Pioneering Physicist Eugene Parker.

    European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/National Aeronautics and Space Administration (US) Solar Orbiter.

    “We hope coordinated observations will be useful in pinning down the evolution of SEPs as they move out from the Sun,” Strachan said.

    “The NASA science program has a long history of obtaining predictive space weather tools from the results of pure research missions,” said Daniel Moses, chief technologist in NASA’s Heliophysics Division. “Collaboration between the NASA Science Mission Directorate, the Naval Research Laboratory and the Department of Defense STP program has been particularly fruitful in this area. UVSC Pathfinder continues this proud tradition of basic research collaboration with the potential of developing a new, high-impact tool with predictive capability.”

    UVSC Pathfinder is a NASA and U.S. Naval Research Laboratory payload aboard the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program Satellite-6 (STPSat-6). It flies alongside NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD), which is testing an enhanced communications capability with the potential to increase bandwidth 10 to 100 times more than radio frequency systems — allowing space missions to send more data home.

    UVSC Pathfinder was designed and built at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. It was funded through NASA’s Heliophysics Program and the Office of Naval Research. It is managed by the Heliophysics Technology and Instrument Development for Science, or H-TIDeS, program office at NASA Headquarters. STP is operated by the United States Space Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA Goddard Space Flight Center campus

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (US) is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the NASA Deep Space Network(US) and the Near Earth Network); develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(US) .

    GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; the Explorers Program; the Discovery Program; the Earth Observing System; INTEGRAL; MAVEN; OSIRIS-REx; the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ; the Solar Dynamics Observatory; Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System ; Fermi; and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned Earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC, while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California(US).

    Goddard is one of four centers built by NASA since its founding on July 29, 1958. It is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication; planning; scientific research; technical operations; and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

    Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, MD was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

    Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

    The Goddard network tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

    Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

    Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System. The center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

  • richardmitnick 8:54 am on September 27, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Official Sources Warn a Geomagnetic Storm Is Imminent So Get Ready For Auroras", Satellite orientation may be affected., , Space Weather   

    From Science Alert (US) : “Official Sources Warn a Geomagnetic Storm Is Imminent So Get Ready For Auroras” 


    From Science Alert (US)

    27 SEPTEMBER 2021

    The Sun on 21 September 2021. (NASA/SDO)

    If you live at a high latitude, it’s time to break out the camera. Space weather agencies are predicting a solar storm for Monday 27 September: moderate, with a chance of aurora.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)(US) and the Met Office-Weather and climate change (UK) have both issued predictions for the storm, which is predicted to be the result of several solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs), and solar winds unleashed from a “hole” that has opened up in the Sun’s corona.

    Although there could be as many as four CMEs that could affect Earth, you don’t have to fret. The storm will only get as high as a level G2 – relatively mild on the five-level solar storm scale, on which G5 is the strongest.

    At high latitudes, the predicted G2 storm may cause power grid fluctuations; satellite orientation may be affected, with increased drag at low-Earth orbit; and high-frequency radio propagation may fade.

    But we may be in for a treat, too: “Aurora may be seen as low as New York to Wisconsin to Washington state,” the NOAA wrote in its alert.

    Solar storms are a part of pretty normal space weather, and in the coming few years, we can probably expect to see more of them. They occur when the Sun gets a little rowdy, in the form of CMEs and solar winds, causing disruptions to Earth’s magnetic field and upper atmosphere.

    CMEs are pretty much exactly what they sound like. The Sun’s corona – the outermost region of its atmosphere – erupts, ejecting plasma and magnetic fields into space. If the CME is oriented at Earth, the collision of the solar ejecta with Earth’s magnetic field can cause a geomagnetic storm – also known as a solar storm.

    Solar winds emerge from ‘holes’ in the Sun’s corona. These are cooler, less dense regions of plasma in the Sun’s atmosphere, with more open magnetic fields. These open regions allow the solar winds to escape more easily, blowing electromagnetic radiation into space at high speeds. If the hole is facing Earth, those winds can blow right at us, once again getting all up in our magnetosphere.

    The Sun currently has both going on.

    “There are four CME which may affect the Earth,” the British Met Office explained on its website.

    “Three of these could arrive separately or as a single combined feature during 27 September, with a further CME perhaps glancing the earth later on 27 or during 28 September. A coronal hole fast wind may also affect the Earth on 27 and 28 September, although any effects from this wind are considered uncertain.

    “There is also a low risk that the CMEs and fast wind may affect the earth at similar times, providing a greater effect. Any enhancements would then ease during 28 and 29 September.”

    Any charged particles that collide with Earth’s magnetic field are sent whizzing along the magnetic field lines towards the poles, where they rain down on Earth’s upper atmosphere and collide with atmospheric molecules. The resulting ionization of these molecules generates the stunning dancing lights we call the aurora.

    According to Space Weather’s aurora forecast, we’ve got a level of Kp 6 on the ten-point Kp index of geomagnetic activity. This means a strong possibility of bright, dynamic aurora with the likelihood of auroral coronae.

    We can also expect more solar storms in the months and years ahead. The Sun is currently heading towards the most active period of its 11-year cycle, called solar maximum. During solar maximum, the solar magnetic field – which controls sunspots (temporary regions of strong magnetic fields), solar flares, and coronal mass ejections – is at its strongest, and so too is solar activity.

    Earlier this year, the Sun spat out its most powerful flare since 2017, so our star definitely seems to be waking up. Its sunspot activity is expected to peak in July 2025, after which it will subside back into solar minimum.

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

  • richardmitnick 1:00 pm on January 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New findings could improve understanding of potentially damaging solar storms", , , , Exactly how reconnection begins and releases energy is still an open question., , , , , Space Weather, When fast-moving particles from the sun strike the Earth’s magnetic field they set off reactions that could disrupt communications satellites and power grids.   

    From DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory: “New findings could improve understanding of potentially damaging solar storms” 

    From DOE’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

    December 14, 2020 [Only just now in social media.]
    Raphael Rosen

    Physicist Kendra Bergstedt in front of an artist’s conception of the Magnetiospheric Multiscale Mission and the Earth’s magnetosphere. Credits: Elle Starkman and NASA.

    When fast-moving particles from the sun strike the Earth’s magnetic field, they set off reactions that could disrupt communications satellites and power grids. Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have learned new details of this process that could lead to better forecasting of this so-called space weather.

    The findings indicate how these regular blasts of fast-moving particles from the sun interact with the magnetic fields surrounding Earth in a region known as the magnetosphere.

    Magnetosphere of Earth, original bitmap from NASA. SVG rendering by Aaron Kaase.

    During these solar outpourings, the sun’s and Earth’s magnetic field lines collide. The field lines break and then reattach, releasing huge amounts of energy in a process known as magnetic reconnection. That energy disperses through the magnetosphere and into Earth’s upper atmosphere.

    Spacecraft and computing provide insights

    The scientists developed a computer program, or algorithm, to automatically detect bubble-like structures called “plasmoids” in data gathered from the magnetosphere. The program analyzed information gathered by NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMS) mission, a group of four spacecraft launched in 2015 to study reconnection in the magnetosphere.

    “Exactly how reconnection begins and releases energy is still an open question,” said Kendra Bergstedt, a graduate student in the Princeton Program in Plasma Physics at PPPL and lead author of the paper reporting the results in Geophysical Research Letters. “Getting a better understanding of this process could help us forecast how solar storms affect us here on Earth. We could also get better insight into how reconnection impacts fusion reactions.” In addition, magnetic reconnection is relevant to fusion energy, the power that drives the sun and stars, which PPPL is studying in an effort to duplicate.

    The computer program looks for patterns in the data and avoids inconsistencies that might occur if the pattern-hunting had been conducted by individuals. “One person might look at data and think it’s a particular plasmoid structure while someone else could look at it and disagree,” Bergstedt said.

    “By using an algorithm with strict criteria, we’re able to say precisely how we categorized each structure and why. There is still some bias — since the algorithm was written by a human with a subjective idea of what constituted a structure — but by using an algorithm that bias could more easily be pointed out and critiqued.”

    The findings shed new light on the emergence of particle energy. “There is ongoing debate about what parts of the reconnecting region contribute the most to particle energization and how,” Bergstedt said. “We found that the smaller-scale plasmoids that we studied in the reconnection region didn’t make a large contribution to the total energy imparted from the magnetic fields to the particles.”

    This finding was a surprise. “We all expected that most of the energization would happen in these plasmoids, which are the focus of both the MMS mission and PPPL’s Magnetic Reconnection Experiment (MRX),” said Hantao Ji, physicist at PPPL and advisor for Bergstedt’s first-year research project, which generated this paper. “These results strongly motivated the Facility for Laboratory Reconnection Experiment (FLARE), our next-step experiment that is intended to generate magnetic reconnection in these new regimes with many more structures and all turbulence in between.”

    The findings were notable because the physics is so complex. While scientists have made significant progress in understanding reconnection, there is still a lot to learn. “And understanding the connection between turbulence and reconnection is even harder,” said Jongsoo Yoo, a PPPL physicist and co-author of the paper. “Kendra did a good job getting some new insights into the process.”

    Since her analysis was applied only to a limited region of the magnetosphere, Bergstedt hopes that the algorithm will be used to study other regions. “It was both a blessing and a curse that I looked at such a small region,” she said. “It’s a blessing because I get to look at this one system as a whole and not compare the phenomena in this region to the phenomena in another region.”

    Collaborators included researchers from PPPL, the University of Colorado-Boulder, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. This research was funded by the DOE Office of Science and the National Science Foundation.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    PPPL campus

    Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory managed by Princeton University. PPPL, on Princeton University’s Forrestal Campus in Plainsboro, N.J., is devoted to creating new knowledge about the physics of plasmas — ultra-hot, charged gases — and to developing practical solutions for the creation of fusion energy. Results of PPPL research have ranged from a portable nuclear materials detector for anti-terrorist use to universally employed computer codes for analyzing and predicting the outcome of fusion experiments. The Laboratory is managed by the University for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the largest single supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit https://energy.gov/science.

    About Princeton: Overview
    Princeton University is a vibrant community of scholarship and learning that stands in the nation’s service and in the service of all nations. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and engineering.

    As a world-renowned research university, Princeton seeks to achieve the highest levels of distinction in the discovery and transmission of knowledge and understanding. At the same time, Princeton is distinctive among research universities in its commitment to undergraduate teaching.

    Today, more than 1,100 faculty members instruct approximately 5,200 undergraduate students and 2,600 graduate students. The University’s generous financial aid program ensures that talented students from all economic backgrounds can afford a Princeton education.

    Princeton Shield

  • richardmitnick 10:16 am on December 1, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Solar Superstorms of the Past Help NASA Scientists Understand Risks for Satellites", , Space Weather   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center: “Solar Superstorms of the Past Help NASA Scientists Understand Risks for Satellites” 

    NASA Goddard Banner
    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

    Nov. 30, 2020

    Mara Johnson-Groh
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.


    At the edge of space, the ever-growing fleet of satellites in low-Earth orbit are locked in a constant, precarious battle with friction.

    These satellites orbit in a normally quiet region hundreds of miles above the surface, at the edge of Earth’s atmosphere. Usually, the satellites only feel a gentle push due to the headwinds of the rarified air there, but extreme storms from the Sun can change Earth’s atmosphere enough to pull a satellite farther off orbit in one day than they’d normally experience in a year.

    These orbital deviations don’t cause satellites to fall out of the sky, but they can disrupt their communication with Earth, shorten their lifespans, and can even increase the chances of a terminal collision in space.

    While researchers and engineers have long been aware of this effect, known as orbital drag, a new collection of research led by NASA scientists is finding that less intense, but longer-lasting storms surprisingly have bigger effects on satellites’ orbits than the shorter, more severe events.

    NASA scientists have carefully monitored space weather and tracked orbital drag for years, since low-Earth orbit satellites provide the backbone to Earth and weather observations and telecommunications systems. The new research, which looked at rare extreme historic storms, will help satellite operators better understand satellite lifetimes and dynamics, making the near-Earth space environment safer when the next big superstorm hits.

    “Orbital drag is very important,” said scientist Jim Spann, a space weather lead at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. “This new result highlights the fact that even during less extreme space weather events, orbital drag of satellites is of greater impact than we anticipated. And it is becoming more and more of an issue, simply because we’ve got more and more and more spacecraft up there.”

    NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory caught a glimpse of a huge coronal mass ejection, or CME, leaving the Sun on July 23, 2012. If such a CME had hit Earth, it could have caused trillions of dollars in damage to telecommunications and infrastructure.
    Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio, the SDO Science Team, and the Virtual Solar Observatory.


    What Causes Orbital Drag

    The swelling of Earth’s upper atmosphere during geomagnetic storms can alter the orbits of satellites, bringing them lower and lower. Orbits are not shown scale. Credit: NASA

    A graphic shows several satellite orbits progressively lowering toward Earth.
    The swelling of Earth’s upper atmosphere during geomagnetic storms can alter the orbits of satellites, bringing them lower and lower. Orbits are not shown scale. Credit: NASA.

    Our closest star, the Sun, provides the light to nurture life on Earth. But it also spews dangerous particles and radiation that can affect astronauts and technology in space. Scientists study the many affects from these outpourings, including what happens when such eruptions are extreme. When it comes to the thousands of active satellites in space, however, one of the key concerns is indirect effects from particles and radiation, even from lesser storms.

    High-energy particles and radiation from the Sun can heat Earth’s atmosphere as they collide with common molecules, like nitrogen and oxygen. The heated air rises and causes the atmosphere to expand like a balloon. If a storm is strong enough, it will cause the atmosphere to expand so much that it engulfs the orbits of low-Earth orbit satellites that would otherwise fly through areas with little to no atmosphere.

    Increased atmosphere is like running in a headwind – it slows you down. For a satellite, this resistance causes it to slow and drop down in altitude. During an extreme magnetic storm event, a satellite could drop nearly a third of a mile in elevation in one day, according to a new paper, recently published in the November issue of Space Weather.

    “That’s a lot. In fact, it’s as much as a satellite would typically lose in a year,” said paper author Denny Oliveira. Oliveira is a scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, who has been studying how the Sun’s activity causes satellite orbital drag for the past few years.

    Previously [Geophysical Research Letters], Oliveira helped improve models [Space Weather], finding that the effects of orbital drag extend twice as high into space as previously expected. This work also found more extreme storms heat and cool the upper atmosphere faster than smaller storms.

    But in their latest research, the scientists are finding that the effects of weaker, but longer-lasting storms might be just as impactful – if not more – than extreme storm events.

    Oliveira and his colleagues studied extreme storms in the last century in order to understand how similar events would affect our modern-day satellites. Such superstorms from the Sun are rare – only one has occurred since the dawn of the space age, and it was only half as powerful as the 1921 event. However, in the same period there have been dozens of lesser magnetic storms from the Sun, not all of which have reached Earth.

    The researchers used data on how satellites have responded to relatively small storms with records of magnetic activity on Earth during past superstorms. This helped them quantify, for the first time, how a satellite would weather a superstorm.

    They found that the strongest storms don’t necessarily produce the most drag. The effects of a longer, less intense storm can build up over time, ultimately causing more orbital drag than a short, powerful storm. This finding surprised the scientists, who didn’t expect the duration of the storm to be such an important factor.

    Collision Control

    Solar storms disproportionately affect low-Earth orbit satellites, which live within the first 375 miles of space above Earth’s surface, which can be enveloped by a swelling atmosphere. The vast majority of new satellites call this region home, including the quickly growing constellations of communications satellites launched by private industries.

    As solar activity heats the thermosphere, this atmospheric layer balloons and can engulf satellites that normally orbit in the nearly particle-free atmospheric region above it. Credit: NASA.

    Once a satellite is knocked out of orbit, the effects only worsen, since at lower altitudes there is more atmosphere and thus more drag, even in calm conditions. The lower a satellite is dragged, the amount of drag it experiences only increases.

    Orbital drag is bad for a satellite that wants to stay at a working altitude, but it’s also bad for nearby satellites that might collide with a satellite that’s been dragged off-course. Furthermore, even tiny pieces of space debris pose a huge risk for satellites, so minimizing collisions is key to keeping the near-Earth environment a functional space for satellites.

    “The idea is, if we know how intense the storm is, and how long this storm will last, we can more precisely track the satellite position,” Oliveira said. “This will help reduce the chances of collision.”

    Space Weather Forecasters

    The new results are just one aspect of space weather and the field of heliophysics, in which scientists try to understand how activity on the Sun ripples across the solar system and affects Earth.

    “Space weather is all about prediction – we need to predict it, we need to be safe,” Oliveira said. “It’s the same idea if you want to go to the beach – you want to know if it’s going to be rainy or sunny or if the waves will be too dangerous to swim. That’s more or less what we want to do with space weather.”

    Scientists at NASA have been monitoring the space weather and effects of drag on satellites for decades, particularly since the 1970s when solar activity led to increased drag on NASA’s Skylab mission, causing it to deorbit earlier than expected. Improved models over the years have helped scientists better understand the effects of normal solar activity on orbital drag. However, the rarity of extreme events has made it difficult to know exactly how they might affect current satellites – something that is ever more important as more and more satellites fill the skies.

    In order to provide advance warning of coming storms, many of NASA’s heliophysics missions help monitor the Sun’s activity. Missions like the Solar Dynamics Observatory [above]and the Solar and Heliophysics Observatory keep a constant eye on the Sun, while other missions like the Ionospheric Connection Explorer, Space Environment Testbeds, and the upcoming Atmospheric Waves Experiment study how space weather and solar variability affect Earth’s upper atmosphere and satellites and other technology. This information helps keeps NASA astronauts and assets in space safe during space weather events.


    NASA ICON-Ionospheric Connection Explorer spacecraft.

    While no one can predict exactly when the next big solar superstorm or long-lasting storm will hit, Oliveira hopes that the new work will help scientists and engineers be more prepared for its coming. The Sun might be 93 million miles away, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a huge impact on Earth.

    See the full article here.


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    NASA/Goddard Campus

  • richardmitnick 12:50 pm on September 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Solar storms could be more extreme if they ‘slipstream’ behind each other", , , Space Weather   

    From Imperial College London: “Solar storms could be more extreme if they ‘slipstream’ behind each other” 

    From Imperial College London

    29 September 2020
    Hayley Dunning

    A previous CME observed by Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Modelling of an extreme space weather event that narrowly missed Earth in 2012 shows it could have been even worse if paired with another event.


    The findings suggest space weather predictions should be updated to include how close events enhance one another.

    Coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are eruptions of vast amounts of magnetised material from the Sun that travel at high speeds, releasing a huge amount of energy in a short time. When they reach Earth, these solar storms trigger amazing auroral displays, but can disrupt power grids, satellites and communications.

    These most extreme of ‘space weather’ events have the potential to be catastrophic, causing power blackouts that would disable anything plugged into a socket and damage to transformers that could take years to repair. Accurate monitoring and predictions are therefore important to minimising damage.

    Now, a research team led by Imperial College London have shown how CMEs could be more extreme than previously thought when two events follow each other. Their results are published today in a special issue of Solar Physics focusing on space weather.

    Technological blackouts

    The team investigated a large CME that occurred on 23 July 2012 and narrowly missed Earth by a couple of days. The CME was estimated to travel at around 2250 kilometres per second, making it comparable to one of the largest events ever recorded, the so-called Carrington event in 1859. Damage estimates for such an event striking Earth today have run into the trillions of dollars.

    Lead author Dr Ravindra Desai, from the Department of Physics at Imperial, said: “The 23 July 2012 event is the most extreme space weather event of the space age, and if this event struck Earth the consequences could cause technological blackouts and severely disrupt society, as we are ever more reliant on modern technologies for our day-to-day lives. We find however that this event could actually have been even more extreme – faster and more intense – if it had been launched several days earlier directly behind another event.”

    The 23 July 2012 event recorded by STEREO.

    NASA/STEREO spacecraft.

    To determine what made the CME so extreme, the team investigated one of the possible causes: the release of another CME on the 19 July 2012, just a few days before. It has been suggested that one CME can ‘clear the way’ for another.

    CMEs travel faster than the ambient solar wind, the stream of charged particles constantly flowing from the Sun. This means the solar wind exerts drag on the travelling CME, slowing it down.

    However, if a previous CME has recently passed through, the solar wind will be affected in such a way that it will not slow down the subsequent CME as much. This is similar to how race car drivers ‘slipstream’ behind one another to gain a speed advantage.

    Magnifying extreme space weather events

    The team created a model that accurately represented the characteristics of the 23 July event and then simulated what would happen if it had occurred earlier or later – i.e. closer to or further from the 19 July event.

    They found that by the time of the 23 July event the solar wind had largely recovered from the 19 July event, so the previous event had little impact. However, their model showed that if the latter CME had occurred earlier, closer to the 19 July event, then it would have been even more extreme – perhaps reaching speeds of up to 2750 kilometres per second or more.

    Han Zhang, co-author and student who worked on the development of this modelling capability, said: “We show that the phenomenon of ‘solar wind preconditioning’, where an initial CME causes a subsequent CME to travel faster, is important for magnifying extreme space weather events. Our model results, showing the magnitude of the effect and how long the effect lasts, can contribute to current space weather forecasting efforts.”

    The Sun is now entering its next 11-year cycle of increasing activity, which brings increased chances of Earth-bound solar storms. Emma Davies, co-author and PhD student, said: “There have been previous instances of successive solar storms bombarding the Earth, such as the Halloween Storms of 2003. During this period, the Sun produced many solar flares, with accompanying CMEs of speeds around 2000 km/s.

    “These events damaged satellites and communication systems, caused aircraft to be re-routed, and a power outage in Sweden. There is always the possibility of similar or worse scenarios occurring this next solar cycle, therefore accurate models for prediction are vital to help mitigate their effects.”

    See the full article here .


    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Imperial College London is a science-based university with an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research. Consistently rated amongst the world’s best universities, Imperial is committed to developing the next generation of researchers, scientists and academics through collaboration across disciplines. Located in the heart of London, Imperial is a multidisciplinary space for education, research, translation and commercialisation, harnessing science and innovation to tackle global challenges.

  • richardmitnick 10:12 am on November 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Proba2, Proba2 has two main solar instruments SWAP and LYRA designed for studying events at the Sun that could impact Earth., , Space Weather   

    From European Space Agency: “A decade probing the Sun” 

    ESA Space For Europe Banner

    From European Space Agency

    Proba2 view of the solar north pole pillars.



    Ten years ago, a small satellite carrying 17 new devices, science instruments and technology experiments was launched into orbit, on a mission to investigate our star and the environment that it rules in space.

    On 2 November, 2009, Proba2 began its journey on board a Rockot launcher from the Russian launch base, Plesetsk, and was inserted into a Sun-synchronous orbit around Earth.

    Tracing this ‘dusk-dawn’ line – where night meets day – Proba2 maintains a constant view of the Sun, keeping its batteries charged and its target in sight.

    The second in ESA’s ‘Project for Onboard Autonomy’ series, Proba2 is so advanced it is able to look after itself on a day-to-day basis, needing just a small team at the Agency’s control station at ESEC in Redu, Belgium, to run the mission.

    Instrumental solar observations

    Proba2 has two main solar instruments, SWAP and LYRA, designed for studying events at the Sun that could impact Earth.

    SWAP takes images of the Sun’s corona, the roughly 1 million degree plasma-filled atmosphere that surrounds the star.

    Sun’s shape-shifting atmosphere viewed by Proba2’s SWAP camera

    With an extremely wide field-of-view, SWAP is able to see structures around the edge of the Sun, such as huge outbursts of hot matter known as coronal mass ejections, sudden flares releasing enormous amounts of light as well as eerie ‘coronal holes’, dark shadowy regions spewing out fast-moving solar wind.

    The LYRA instrument monitors the Sun’s ultraviolet output, and is able to make up to 100 measurements per second. This high rate means the instrument can make detailed studies of fast-moving ‘transient’ events such as solar flares.

    A stellar record

    During its decade in space, the small satellite – less than a cubic metre in size – has:

    Orbited the Earth ~53,000 times
    Produced ~30,000 LYRA data files on solar ultraviolet emission
    Produced ~2,090,000 SWAP images of the solar disk
    Passed our ground stations in Redu, Belgium and Svalbard, Norway (Arctic) 32,453 times
    Helped produce more than 100 peer-reviewed papers

    More information about Proba2 satellite and its measurements can be found at the Proba2 Science Center 10 year anniversary page.

    What next for Proba2?

    The Sun in 2018

    One of the many mysteries of our star is the way its activity rises and falls in 11 year cycles. From one cycle to the next, the Sun’s north and south poles trade places and the number of flares, coronal mass ejections, sunspots and coronal loops fluctuate from many per day in active periods to weeks without any when it is quiet.

    In 2020, the 11th year of the Proba2 mission, it will have been monitoring the Sun for a full solar cycle.

    This landmark period will allow the satellite to probe the Sun’s evolution over the long term, comparing the current quiet period with the last solar minimum, and ready for when the Sun again ‘wakes up’ in 2024/2025.

    Space weather

    Space weather effects

    Unpredictable and temperamental, the Sun makes life on the innermost planets of the Solar System impossible due to intense radiation and colossal amounts of energetic material that it blasts in every direction, creating the ever-changing conditions in space known as ‘space weather’.

    At Earth, extreme solar events have the potential to disrupt and damage infrastructure in space and on the ground, and intense bursts of radiation threaten future explorers to the Moon and Mars.

    ESA’s Space Weather Office, part of the agency’s Space Safety activities, is working to help European operators of sensitive infrastructure including satellites, power lines, aviation and transport to avoid adverse impacts of space weather. The mission of the Space Weather Office is to develop a system that provides timely and accurate space weather information and forecasts to operational users and public in Europe.

    Find out about ESA’s planned Lagrange mission to provide solar warning, here, and the Space Weather Service Network, getting the word out to those who need to know.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

    ESA50 Logo large

Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
%d bloggers like this: