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Archive for January 27, 2012

New X2 Solar Flare & Asteroid Flyby

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Asteroid Flyby

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.

 

Full Stories: http://spaceweather.com/archive.php?month=01&day=27&year=2012&view=view

Improved Forecasting to Coincide with Peak in Solar Activity

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

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.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/ensemble-forecasting.html

MSL’s RAD Measures Radiation from Solar Storm

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

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.

 

Full Story: http://www.swri.org/9what/releases/2012/rad-solarstorm.htm

Texas Students to Speak Live With Space Station Crew

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

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.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/jan/HQ_M12-014_ISS_Mansfield_Event.html

Astronaut Jerry Ross, First Seven-Time Flier, Retires

January 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Jerry Ross, the first person to launch into space seven times, has retired from NASA. In a career that spanned more than three decades, Ross spent almost 1,400 hours in space and conducted nine spacewalks to rank third on the list of most extravehicular activity time in space.

“Jerry has been instrumental in the success of many of NASA’s human spaceflight missions and numerous spacewalks,” said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office. “Not only were his skills and operational excellence key in major spaceflight activities but his expertise and vigilance also helped all those who followed in his footsteps. We are the better for his years of dedication to the corps and NASA.”

Ross joined NASA in 1979 as a payload officer and flight controller. In 1980, he was selected as an astronaut. He and Franklin Chang-Diaz are the only two astronauts to have flown into space seven times. In addition to Ross’ spaceflight mission accomplishments, he went on to serve NASA in the critical role of managing the Vehicle Integration Test Office.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/jan/HQ_12-033_Ross_Retires.html