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Today's Sun - November 15th 2021


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    • By European Space Agency
      The hyperactive sunspot region responsible for the beautiful auroras earlier in May was still alive and kicking when it rotated away from Earth’s view. Watching from the other side of the Sun, the ESA-led Solar Orbiter mission detected this same region producing the largest solar flare of this solar cycle. By observing the Sun from all sides, ESA missions reveal how active sunspot regions evolve and persist, which will help improve space weather forecasting.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      4 min read
      NASA’s OSIRIS-APEX Unscathed After Searing Pass of Sun
      Mission engineers were confident NASA’s OSIRIS-APEX (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification – Apophis Explorer) spacecraft could weather its closest ever pass of the Sun on Jan. 2, 2024. Their models had predicted that, despite traveling 25 million miles closer to the heat of the Sun than it was originally designed to, OSIRIS-APEX and its components would remain safe.
      The mission team confirmed that the spacecraft indeed had come out of the experience unscathed after downloading stored telemetry data in mid-March. The team also tested OSIRIS-APEX’s instruments in early April, once the spacecraft was far enough from the Sun to return to normal operations. Between December 2023 and March, OSIRIS-APEX was inactive, with only limited telemetry data available to the team on Earth.
      Both these images from a camera called StowCam aboard OSIRIS-APEX show the same view taken six months apart, before (left) and after (right) the Jan. 2, 2024, perihelion. Notably, there is no observable difference on spacecraft surfaces, a good indication that the higher temperatures faced during perihelion didn’t alter the spacecraft. Another insight gleaned from the identical view in the two images is that the camera’s performance was also not affected by perihelion. StowCam, a color imager, is one of three cameras comprising TAGCAMS (the Touch-and-Go Camera System), which is part of OSIRIS-APEX’s guidance, navigation, and control system. TAGCAMS was designed, built and tested by Malin Space Science Systems; Lockheed Martin integrated TAGCAMS to the OSIRIS-APEX spacecraft and operates TAGCAMS. The spacecraft’s clean bill of health was due to creative engineering. Engineers placed OSIRIS-APEX in a fixed orientation with respect to the Sun and repositioned one of its two solar arrays to shade the spacecraft’s most sensitive components during the pass.
      The spacecraft is in an elliptical orbit around the Sun that brings it to a point closest to the Sun, called a perihelion, about every nine months. To get on a path that will allow it to meet up with its new target Apophis in 2029, the spacecraft’s trajectory includes several perihelions that are closer to the Sun than the spacecraft’s components were originally designed to withstand.
      “It’s phenomenal how well our spacecraft configuration protected OSIRIS-APEX, so I’m really encouraged by this first close perihelion pass,” said Ron Mink, mission systems engineer for OSIRIS-APEX, based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
      Besides confirming that the January perihelion worked out according to predictions, engineers found surprises while testing spacecraft components. A couple of instruments came out better than expected after exposure to higher temperatures.
      A camera that helped map asteroid Bennu and will do the same at Apophis, saw a 70% reduction in “hot pixels” since April 13, 2023, the last time it was tested. Hot pixels, which are common in well-used cameras in space, show up as white spots in images when detectors accumulate exposure to high-energy radiation, mostly from our Sun.
      “We think the heat from the Sun reset the pixels through annealing,” said Amy Simon, OSIRIS-APEX project scientist, based at NASA Goddard. Annealing is a heat process that can restore function of instruments and is often done intentionally through built-in heaters on some spacecraft.
      Captured on Oct. 20, 2020, as NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft collected a sample from the surface of asteroid Bennu, this series of 82 images shows the SamCam imager’s field of view as the spacecraft approached and touched Bennu’s surface. OSIRIS-REx’s sampling head touched Bennu’s surface for approximately 6 seconds, after which the spacecraft performed a back-away burn. Credit: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona Another welcome surprise, said Simon, came from the spacecraft’s visible and near-infrared spectrometer. Before perihelion, the spectrometer, which mapped the surface composition of Bennu, and will do the same at Apophis, seemed to have a rock from Bennu stuck inside its calibration port. Scientist suspected that some sunlight was blocked from filtering through the instrument after the spacecraft, then called OSIRIS-REx, grabbed a sample from asteroid Bennu on Oct. 20, 2020. By picking up the sample and then firing its engines to back away from Bennu, the spacecraft stirred up dust and pebbles that clung to it.
      “But, with enough spacecraft maneuvers and engine burns after sample collection,” Simon said, the rock in the calibration port appears to have been dislodged. Scientists will check the spectrometer again when OSIRIS-APEX swings by Earth on Sept. 25, 2025, for a gravitational boost.
      OSIRIS-APEX is now operating normally as it continues its journey toward asteroid Apophis for a 2029 rendezvous. Its better-than-expected performance during the first close perihelion is welcome news. But engineers caution that it doesn’t mean it’s time to relax. OSIRIS-APEX needs to execute five more exceptionally close passes of the Sun — along with three Earth gravity assists — to get to its destination. It’s unclear how the cumulative effect of six perihelions at a closer distance than designed will impact the spacecraft and its components.
      The second OSIRIS-APEX perihelion is scheduled for Sept. 1, 2024. The spacecraft will be 46.5 million miles away from the Sun, which is roughly half the distance between Earth and the Sun, and well inside the orbit of Venus.

      Learn more about the OSIRIS-APEX mission to Apophis

      By Lonnie Shekhtman
      NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
      View the full article
    • By Space Force
      The 15th Space Surveillance Squadron created and deployed web-based application MOSS, to enhance scheduling efficiency, enabling 150 more days per year of telescope usage, aiming to provide transparent scheduling capabilities to the research and development and intelligence community.

      View the full article
    • By USH
      The sun appears to be angry; a massive coronal mass ejection unveils a striking image resembling a grimacing demonic face. Striking are the letters DV (DeVil?) standing out on the forehead of the figure. 

      Obviously, the strange phenomenon captured by NASA's solar satellite SOLO EUI HRI 174 on 2024/05/11 is an ordinary natural occurrence triggered by the eruption of solar material but a fact is that a huge CME hit Earth's magnetic field on May 10th, leading up to the biggest geomagnetic storm in almost 20 year. 
      And it is not yet over as forecasts predict additional coronal mass ejections to follow closely behind, prolonging the storm well into the weekend. Anticipation mounts for widespread auroras, promising captivating displays over regions like Europa and the United States. 
      The storm has now reached level G5 which is the strongest level of geomagnetic storm, on a scale from G1 to G5. The solar storm could lead to disruption of satellite communication systems, low-frequency radio navigation systems such as GPS or even widespread power grid failures. 
      This unique solar phenomenon emphasizes once more the importance of constant monitoring and readiness in response to solar disruptions in order to prevent another Carrington event which was the most intense geomagnetic storm in recorded history, peaking from 1–2 September 1859.
        View the full article
    • By NASA
      3 min read
      Unveiling the Sun: NASA’s Open Data Approach to Solar Eclipse Research
      A total solar eclipse is seen on Monday, August 21, 2017 above Madras, Oregon. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe. NASA/Aubrey Gemignani As the world eagerly anticipates the upcoming total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, NASA is preparing for an extraordinary opportunity for scientific discovery, open collaboration, and public engagement. At the heart of the agency’s approach to this unusual event lies a commitment to open science, ensuring that the data captured during the eclipse is readily accessible to all.
      During a total solar eclipse the normal rhythms of Earth are briefly disrupted, providing an unusual opportunity for scientists to study the atmosphere of our solar-powered planet. Because NASA uses the vantage point of space to understand and explore our home planet to improve lives and safeguard our future, solar eclipses offer scientists a one-of-a-kind window into the workings of our solar system. 
      While they offer a treasure trove of data for formal researchers, eclipses are also a fantastic opportunity for citizen scientists to participate in a celestial event. Participants from all backgrounds can work together with NASA to make discoveries possible before, during, and after an eclipse – regardless of where they are in the eclipse path. For example, citizen science projects like the Citizen CATE Experiment, which mobilizes volunteers to set up telescopes along the path, contribute greatly to data collection efforts.
      A boy watches the total solar eclipse through protective glasses in Madras, Oregon on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. A total solar eclipse swept across a narrow portion of the contiguous United States from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina. A partial solar eclipse was visible across the entire North American continent along with parts of South America, Africa, and Europe. NASA/Aubrey Gemignani Additionally, NASA has introduced innovative tools like SunSketcher, a user-friendly platform that allows enthusiasts to sketch the sun’s corona during an eclipse. These sketches contribute valuable qualitative data alongside quantitative measurements, enriching our understanding of solar phenomena and enhancing public engagement in scientific endeavors. By involving amateur astronomers and enthusiasts, NASA not only expands its observational reach but also fosters community engagement and participation in scientific discovery.
      NASA is committed to open science and making scientific data available to everyone. Following each solar eclipse, the agency shares the data collected with the global community. Through publicly available datasets, accessible via online repositories and dedicated eclipse websites, NASA ensures that researchers, educators, students, and enthusiasts alike can delve into the intricacies of eclipse observations. By sharing data and resources, NASA facilitates interdisciplinary research and broadens understanding of solar phenomena on a global scale. 
      Ahead of the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse, the NASA Transform to Open Science (TOPS) team will participate in several activities in the Uvalde, Texas area to educate the public about the data-driven domain of eclipses and how open science principles facilitate the sharing and analysis of information among researchers, students and enthusiasts. For a full schedule of NASA TOPS events, please be sure to check the TOPS 2024 Total Solar Eclipse Event page. For a complete list of NASA 2024 Total Solar Eclipse events, visit the NASA eclipse event page.
      For more information about the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse, visit:
      https://science.nasa.gov/eclipses/future-eclipses/eclipse-2024/
      For more information on NASA’s commitment to open science, including NASA’s Open Science 101 training on how to participate in open science, visit:
      https://science.nasa.gov/researchers/open-science/
      By Amanda Moon Adams
      Communications Lead for the Office of the Chief Science Data Officer
      Share








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