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NASA STEREO Observes One Of The Fastest CMEs On Record


Credit: NASA/STEREO

Credit: NASA/STEREO

On July 23, 2012, a massive cloud of solar material erupted off the sun’s right side, zooming out into space, passing one of NASA’s Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft along the way. Using the STEREO data, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. clocked this giant cloud, known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME, as traveling between 1,800 and 2,200 miles per second as it left the sun.

Conversations began to buzz and the emails to fly: this was the fastest CME ever observed by STEREO, which since its launch in 2006 has helped make CME speed measurements much more precise. Such an unusually strong bout of space weather gives scientists an opportunity to observe how these events affect the space around the sun, as well as to improve their understanding of what causes them.

“Between 1,800 and 2,200 miles per second puts it without question as one of the top five CMEs ever measured by any spacecraft,” says solar scientist Alex Young at Goddard. “And if it’s at the top of that velocity range it’s probably the fastest.”

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NASA STEREO Observes One Of The Fastest CMEs On Record

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment

On July 23, 2012, a massive cloud of solar material erupted off the sun’s right side, zooming out into space, passing one of NASA’s Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) spacecraft along the way. Using the STEREO data, scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. clocked this giant cloud, known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME, as traveling between 1,800 and 2,200 miles per second as it left the sun.

Conversations began to buzz and the emails to fly: this was the fastest CME ever observed by STEREO, which since its launch in 2006 has helped make CME speed measurements much more precise. Such an unusually strong bout of space weather gives scientists an opportunity to observe how these events affect the space around the sun, as well as to improve their understanding of what causes them.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/stereo/news/fast-cme.html

SDO and STEREO Spot Something New On the Sun

April 10, 2012 Leave a comment

One day in the fall of 2011, Neil Sheeley, a solar scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., did what he always does – look through the daily images of the sun from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

But on this day he saw something he’d never noticed before: a pattern of cells with bright centers and dark boundaries occurring in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona. These cells looked somewhat like a cell pattern that occurs on the sun’s surface — similar to the bubbles that rise to the top of boiling water — but it was a surprise to find this pattern higher up in the corona, which is normally dominated by bright loops and dark coronal holes.

Sheeley discussed the images with his Naval Research Laboratory colleague Harry Warren, and together they set out to learn more about the cells. Their search included observations from a fleet of NASA spacecraft called the Heliophysics System Observatory that provided separate viewpoints from different places around the sun. They describe the properties of these previously unreported solar features, dubbed “coronal cells,” in a paper published online in The Astrophysical Journal on March 20, 2012 that will appear in print on April 10.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/solar-plumes.html

STEREO Mission Celebrates Five Incredible Years of Science

October 26, 2011 Leave a comment

On October 25, 2006 a Delta II rocket launched from Cape Canaveral carrying two nearly identical spacecraft. Each satellite was one half of a mission entitled Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) and they were destined to do something never done before – see the entire sun simultaneously.

The sun rotates, of course, so there’s no part of the sun we haven’t at some point observed from our vantage point on Earth. But watching this massive, highly active star from only a single line of sight has its limitations. For one, we never know what’s about to come over the horizon: a clear, relatively quiet surface or a cluster of active areas ready to send billions of tons of energy and radiation toward Earth? It’s also not easy to gauge the speed, size, or other characteristics of incoming solar activity when only viewing it head on.

“Over the last five years, each STEREO spacecraft has moved to a position in its orbit where it can capture side-view images of anything the sun sends our way, ” says Joe Gurman, STEREO’s project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “That’s helped us come up with many new answers to old questions about solar activity.”

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/stereo/news/five-years.html

New Images of Solar Wind As It Impacts Earth

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

CME Impacting WIND Spacecraft

Courtesy SwRI/NASA

Using data collected by NASA’s STEREO spacecraft, researchers at Southwest Research Institute and the National Solar Observatory have developed the first detailed images of solar wind structures as plasma and other particles from a coronal mass ejection (CME) traveled 93 million miles and impacted Earth.

Full Story: http://swri.org/9what/releases/2011/solarwind.htm

NASA Data And New Techniques Yield Detailed Views Of Solar Storms

August 18, 2011 Leave a comment

NASA spacecraft observations and new data processing techniques are giving scientists better insight into the evolution and development of solar storms that can damage satellites, disrupt communications and cause power grid failures on Earth.

 

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/aug/HQ_11-270_STEREO_Data.html

NASA Hosts News Briefing About Tracking Space Weather Events

August 16, 2011 Leave a comment

 

NASA will host a news briefing at 2 p.m. EDT, Thursday, Aug. 18, to discuss new details about the structure of solar storms and the impact they have on Earth. The new information comes from NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, spacecraft and other NASA probes.

http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2011/aug/HQ_M11-170_Solar_Show.html