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STEREO’s swirly sun

December 3rd, 2010 4 comments

As NASA’s STEREO (Ahead) spacecraft watched over about 2.5 days in extreme ultraviolet light (Nov. 23-25, 2010), plasma tendrils and filaments swirled and unfurled at the sun’s edges. Nothing unusual here; it’s just our unquiet sun doing its thing.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________ OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.



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That Was The Week That Was, November 29-December 4, 2010. . . A Digest of Goddard People, Science, & Media, PLUS Historical Tidbits and Our Best Stuff in the Blogpodcastotwitterverse

December 3rd, 2010 Comments off






sateliite image of mexico and central americaMONDAY November 29: The MODIS Image of the Day features southern Mexico and Central America, a striking true-color image of green vegetation and rugged tan mountain tops.

Chimps in space! On this day in 1961, Enos the chimp blasted off on a test flight aboard a Mercury Atlas 5. He experienced a peak acceleration of 7.6 g’s during launch and endured two orbits in just over 3 hours before returning to Earth safely.

More awesomeness: The NASA Blueshift Weekly Awesomeness Round Up features colliding galaxies, a runaway star, and Comet Hartley 2 in 3D.


image of tiger stripe heat map on enceladusTUESDAY November 30: Today NASA’s Cassini spacecraft dipped near the surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus imaged shadowy regions of the tortured south polar terrain and the brilliant jets that spray out from it.

WEDNESDAY December 1: New images and data from a Cassini fly by Aug. 13, 2010, give scientists a unique Saturn-lit view of active fissures in the south polar region of Saturn’s moon Enceladus.

A week in the sun: The SDOmision2009 YouTube channel features the “7 day sun” video. For seven days (November 13-19), the Solar Dynamics Observatory’s HMI instrument watched as a small sunspot group morphed, merged, and grew into two large sunspots.


soho-cme-202THURSDAY December 2: Today, NASA’s solar and heliospheric observatory (SOHO) marks 15 years in space. SOHO is perhaps best known for its observations of coronal mass ejections, or CMEs. SOHO has, over the years, emerged into the greatest comet-finder of all time. As of November 1, 2010, SOHO had spotted more than 1,940 of comets.

Poison bugs: After days of wild speculation in the press, including false rumors about life discovered on Saturn’s moon Titan, NASA announced discovery of a bacteria that is the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic.

Sofia science: NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, completed the first of three science flights today to demonstrate the aircraft’s potential to make discoveries about the infrared universe. A Goddard team has an instrument aboard the observatory called SAFIRE, “the Far-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer for SOFIA.”

Chimps in space! (See December 2)

Chimps in space! (See Nov. 29)

Black ops: A team led by Goddard’s John Hagopian wins an innovation award for developing an exotic coating that is “blacker than black” and may be used someday to damp stray light pollution on spacecraft. Each year, the Goddard Office of the Chief Technologist bestows the award on those who exemplify the best in research and development at the center. Also, don’t miss the video about Hagopian’s work.

Hubble fix-it team: On this day in 1993, the STS-61 shuttle mission went into space to undertake the first Hubble Space Telescope servicing operation, repairing the observatory’s optics and perform routine servicing.


FRIDAY December 3: On this day in 1973, Pioneer 10 made the first spacecraft observations of Jupiter, passing within 81,000 miles of the cloudtops.

Lost: On this day in 1999, the Mars Polar Lander reached Mars. While attempting a direct entry into Mars’ atmosphere, the probe was lost.


SATURDAY December 4: NASA research physicist Brent Bos gives a presentation about the James Webb Space Telescope at the Imagination Station science center in Toledo, Ohio.

Let’s get started: On this day in 1998, the first International Space Station assembly flight, STS-88, launched.


_____________________________________________________________________________________________________ OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.



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Happy 15th birthday, SOHO

December 2nd, 2010 Comments off
The top 10 favorite SOHO solar images chosen by the public in 2005

The top 10 favorite SOHO solar images chosen by the public in 2005


Takes a licking, keeps on ticking — you could say that about a lot of “birds” developed at Goddard Space Flight Center. SOHO, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, is one of them.

On December 2, 1995, SOHO blasted into space from Cape Canaveral. The joint European Space Agency/NASA project soon began its work observing the sun. If you want to know the how, whats, and whys, please read the excellent press release by my colleague Karen Fox and the a short feature on The Sun Today website. Or browse the latest SOHO imagery of the sun.

But here are the take-homes:

  • “Fifteen years later, SOHO has revolutionized what we know about the solar atmosphere and violent solar storms produced by the sun.”
  • “SOHO has become an expert comet-hunter…”
  • “…helped create the field of near-real-time space weather reporting as we know it…”
  • “Placed into orbit around the L1 Lagrangian point between Earth and the sun, SOHO was able to observe the sun continuously without Earth ever obstructing its view.”
  • “SOHO is perhaps best known for its observations of coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.”
  • “…as of November 1, 2010, SOHO had spotted more than 1,940 [comaets.] (A contest to predict the day on which the 2,000th will be spotted is here.)”
  • “The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory or SOHO is by many accounts the granddaddy of modern solar astronomy.”

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.