Hydrogen molecules may act as a kind of energy sink that strengthens the magnetic grip that causes sunspots, according to scientists from Hawaii and New Mexico using a new infrared instrument on an old telescope.
“We think that molecular hydrogen plays an important role in the formation and evolution of sunspots,” said Dr. Sarah Jaeggli, a recent University of Hawaii at Manoa graduate whose doctoral research formed a key element of the new findings. She conducted the research with Drs. Haosheng Lin, also from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Han Uitenbroek of the National Solar Observatory in Sunspot, NM. Jaeggli now is a postdoctoral researcher in the solar group at Montana State University. Their work is published in the Feb. 1, 2012, issue of The Astrophysical Journal.
Full Story: http://www.nso.edu/press/FIRS/
NASA has launched its first multi-player online game to test players’ knowledge of the space program. Who was the first American to walk in space? Who launched the first liquid-fueled rocket? These are only a few of the questions players can answer in Space Race Blastoff.
Available on Facebook, Space Race Blastoff tests players’ knowledge of NASA history, technology, science and pop culture. Players who correctly answer questions earn virtual badges depicting NASA astronauts, spacecraft and celestial objects. Players also earn points they can use to obtain additional badges to complete sets and earn premium badges.
“Space Race Blastoff opens NASA’s history and research to a wide new audience of people accustomed to using social media,” said David Weaver, NASA’s associate administrator for communications. “Space experts and novices will learn new things about how exploration continues to impact our world.”
The American Institute of Physics (AIP) and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) are pleased to announce that renowned astrophysicist Chryssa Kouveliotou, Ph.D., has been selected as the 2012 recipient of the Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics, which is given annually to recognize outstanding work in the field.
Her citation reads: “For her extensive accomplishments and discoveries in the areas of gamma ray bursts and their afterglows, soft gamma repeaters, and magnetars. Particularly notable are Dr. Kouveliotou’s abilities to create collaborations and her effectiveness and insights in using multiwavelength observations.”
The award will be presented at the American Astronomical Society’s 221st Meeting, January 2013, in Long Beach, Calif., at which Kouveliotou will give a plenary lecture.
Newly-discovered asteroid 2012 BX34 is flying past Earth today only 77,000 km (0.2 lunar distances) away. There is no danger of a collision with the 14-meter wide space rock.
X2 Solar Flare
Departing sunspot 1402 unleashed an X2-class solar flare today, Jan. 27th, at 18:37 UT. Sunspot 1402 is rotating onto the far side of the sun, so the blast site was not facing Earth. Nevertheless, energetic protons accelerated by the blast are now surrounding our planet, and an intensifying S1-class radiation storm is in progress.
After years of relative somnolence, the sun is beginning to stir. By the time it’s fully awake in about 20 months, the team at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., charged with researching and tracking solar activity, will have at their disposal a greatly enhanced forecasting capability.
Goddard’s Space Weather Laboratory recently received support under NASA’s Space Technology Program Game Changing Program to implement “ensemble forecasting,” a computer technique already used by meteorologists to track potential paths and impacts of hurricanes and other severe weather events.
Instead of analyzing one set of solar-storm conditions, as is the case now, Goddard forecasters will be able to simultaneously produce as many as 100 computerized forecasts by calculating multiple possible conditions or, in the parlance of Heliophysicists, parameters. Just as important, they will be able to do this quickly and use the information to provide alerts of space weather storms that could potentially be harmful to astronauts and NASA spacecraft.
The largest solar particle event since 2005 hit the Earth, Mars and the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft travelling in-between, allowing the onboard Radiation Assessment Detector to measure the radiation a human astronaut could be exposed to en route to the Red Planet.
On Sunday, a huge coronal mass ejection erupted from the surface of the sun, spewing a cloud of charged particles in our direction, causing a strong “S3” solar storm. A NASA Goddard Space Weather Lab animation of the CME illustrates how the disturbance impacts Earth, Mars and several spacecraft. Solar storms can affect the Earth’s aurorae, satellites, air travel and GPS systems; no harmful effects to the Mars Science Laboratory have been detected from this solar event.
Fifth- through eighth-grade students at Asa Low Intermediate School in Mansfield, Texas, will speak with NASA’s Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineer Don Pettit aboard the International Space Station at 11:50 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Media representatives are invited to attend. The event will be broadcast live on NASA Television.
On Jan. 27, the students will take part in a series of activities focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The school also will host a space night to share lessons about space with students. Administrators temporarily have renamed the school “N”Asa Low in honor of the event.