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6/27/17: Solar Minimum is Coming. Every 11 years or so, sunspots fade away, bringing a period of relative calm, known asthe Solar Minimum. [NASA Sciencecast] [Solar Cycles]
6/22/17: Scientists Uncover Origins of the Sunís Swirling Spicules. At any given moment, as many as 10 million wild jets of solar material burst from the sunís surface. They erupt as fast as 60 miles per second, and can reach lengths of 6,000 miles before collapsing. These are spicules, and despite their grass-like abundance, scientists didnít understand how they form. Now, for the first time, a computer simulation ó so detailed it took a full year to run ó shows how spicules form, helping scientists understand how spicules can break free of the sunís surface and surge upward so quickly. [Magnetic Fields]
6/21/17: Parker Solar Probe. As NASAís Parker Solar Probe spacecraft begins its first historic encounter with the sunís corona in late 2018óflying closer to our star than any other mission in historyóa revolutionary cooling system will keep its solar arrays at peak performance, even in extremely hostile conditions. [Parker Solar Probe]
5/8/17: Space Weather Model Simulates Solar Storms From Nowhere. An international team of scientists has developed a model that simulates the evolution of stealthy solar storms. The scientists relied upon NASA missions STEREO and SOHO for this work, fine-tuning their model until the simulations matched the space-based observations. Their work shows how a slow, quiet process can unexpectedly create a twisted mass of magnetic fields on the sun, which then pinches off and speeds out into space ó all without any advance warning. [Space Weather]
5/5/17: NASA-Funded Sounding Rocket Will Take 1,500 Images of Sun in 5 Minutes. On May 5, 2017, scientists launched a sounding rocket 200 miles up into the atmosphere, where in just five minutes, it will take 1,500 images of the sun. The NASA-funded RAISE mission is designed to scrutinize split-second changes occurring near the sunís active regions ó areas of intense, complex magnetic activity that can give rise to solar flares, which eject energy and solar material out into space.
4/24/17: NASAís Cassini, Voyager Missions Suggest New Picture of Sunís Interaction with Galaxy. New data from NASAís Cassini mission, combined with measurements from the two Voyager spacecraft and NASAís Interstellar Boundary Explorer, or IBEX, suggests that our sun and planets are surrounded by a giant, rounded system of magnetic field from the sun ó calling into question the alternate view of the solar magnetic fields trailing behind the sun in the shape of a long comet tail. [Solar Wind]
4/19/17: Living with a Star: NASA and Partners Survey Space Weather Science. Last year, NASA scientists worked with scientists and engineers from research institutions and industry during a pair of intensive week-long workshops in order to assess the state of science surrounding this type of space weather. [Space Weather]
4/10/17: Solar Storms Can Drain Electrical Charge Above Earth. New research on solar storms finds that they not only can cause regions of excessive electrical charge in the upper atmosphere above Earth's poles, they also can do the exact opposite: cause regions that are nearly depleted of electrically charged particles. The finding adds to our knowledge of how solar storms affect Earth and could possibly lead to improved radio communication and navigation systems for the Arctic.
3/31/17: PPPL and Max Planck physicists reveal experimental verification of a key source of fast reconnection of magnetic fields. Magnetic reconnection, a universal process that triggers solar flares and northern lights and can disrupt cell phone service and fusion experiments, occurs much faster than theory says that it should. Now researchers at the U.S. Department of Energyís (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) and Germanyís Max Planck Institute of Plasma Physics have discovered a source of the speed-up in a common form of reconnection. Their findings could lead to more accurate predictions of damaging space weather and improved fusion experiments.
3/30/17: Rossby waves, large movement patterns in the atmosphere, have been found on the sun, and their discovery could help make better long-term space weather predictions. Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Genna Duberstein, Producer. Read new study led by a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Read the full study: The detection of Rossby-like waves on the Sun.