October 28, 2006 |
Twin spacecraft blasted off on a mission to study huge eruptions from the sun that can damage satellites, disrupt electrical and communications systems on Earth, and endanger spacewalking astronauts. The two NASA spacecraft, known as STEREO, for Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, lifted off Wednesday from Cape Canaveral in Florida, aboard a Delta II rocket.
November 16, 2003 |
Even astronomers can take the sun -- glowing steadily for more than 4 billion years and rising unfailingly every morning -- for granted. Among the 100 billion stars in the Milky Way, ours is rather lackluster. But the sun certainly is demanding everyone's attention now, three weeks into perhaps the most dramatic and unexpected chain of eruptions ever observed venting from its seething, bubbling surface. There have been as many as 11 salvos since Oct. 19.
November 8, 2003 |
A solar flare that burst out of the sun Tuesday was the largest on record. The two previous most powerful flares, from 1989 and 2001, were rated at X-20 on the scale used by solar astronomers. Tuesday's event was at least an X-28 and could be revised upward. The flare was so powerful it "blinded" the satellite used to measure it for 11 minutes. The flare caused few problems on Earth because it was directed away from the planet and hit only with a glancing blow.
October 29, 2003 |
One of the most powerful solar flares in nearly 30 years erupted from the sun's surface early Tuesday morning, ejecting a titanic blast of gas, radiation and matter toward Earth. Space weather forecasters said the event could lead to a geomagnetic storm today and Thursday that could disrupt power lines and impair satellite and radio communications, although the power of the storm remained uncertain.
April 3, 2001 |
Forecasters said a solar flare was the most intense they have seen in the current 11-year solar cycle. Space weather forecasters in Boulder estimated its intensity at X-22 on a scale that goes only to 20 after sensors on a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite could no longer measure it. Forecasters said the estimate could be off by plus or minus 2. The flare caused static on a radio frequency used to navigate boats and planes, causing flight delays.
March 31, 2001 |
Four solar flares and a pair of powerful magnetic gas clouds spawned in a monster sunspot were headed for Earth and could affect power systems, satellites and some radio transmissions this weekend, a top space weather forecaster said. They might also provide a dazzling display of the northern lights if they arrive at night, said Gary Heckman, senior forecaster for the U.S. Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo.
November 24, 2000 |
A NASA spacecraft on a seven-year mission to collect comet dust survived a zap from an enormous solar flare this month. The Stardust spacecraft was hit Nov. 9 by a storm of high-energy particles 100,000 times more intense than usual, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, which manages the mission. The spacecraft was 130 million miles away from the sun when it was struck, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said.
July 17, 2000 |
A severe geomagnetic storm that hit Earth this weekend interfered with data from at least one U.S. weather satellite and some power systems, government scientists said. But space weather forecasters at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., said the worst of Saturday's storm, caused by a huge solar flare on Friday, was over.
February 21, 2000 |
The sun may seem a placid presence, but next week it will enter the peak of its mysterious 11-year cycle, a period of furious activity and violent space storms. The solar maximum, as it is called, is an interval of months marked by wrenching solar activity that hurls billion-ton blasts of radioactive particles, X-rays and magnetic energy toward Earth. Such blasts can disable satellites, knock out navigational systems and darken entire cities by frying electrical grids.
January 7, 1999 |
Providing one more unlikely thing to worry about in the new millennium, Yale astronomers said Wednesday that some stars disturbingly like the sun emit highly destructive, supermassive solar flares, 100 to 10 million times larger than any flare observed on our sun.