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Japan’s Solar Sail Photographed in Orbit

June 17th, 2010

Source: Discovery News If seeing is believing, this picture comes as sweet relief to a satellite operations team in Japan that has been overseeing the flight of an experimental solar sailing spacecraft. The Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, known as JAXA, captured the image after the IKAROS spacecraft deployed a small camera last week. The picture […]

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Human Sunspots! Incredible Image

May 20th, 2010

Skywatcher Thierry Legault has snapped an image of the solar transit of the International Space Station (ISS) and Space Shuttle Atlantis. The spectacular shot was taken just 50 minutes before docking of the two vehicles, taken from the area of Madrid, Spain on May 16th 2010. Atlantis has just begun the “R-bar pitch maneuver” – a […]

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NASA’s New Eye on the Sun Delivers Stunning First Images

April 22nd, 2010

NASA’s recently launched Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, is returning early images that confirm an unprecedented new capability for scientists to better understand our sun’s dynamic processes. These solar activities affect everything on Earth.

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Danger Mars Colonists! Need for Predicting Space Storms

March 29th, 2010

Future inhabitants of Mars (those that are not already there, perhaps) are in need of a space storm monitoring system.

That’s the advice of Roger Dube, professor in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in Rochester, New York.

NASA’s vision for a permanent human presence on Mars is penciled in as soon as 2028. If so, the first group of colonists won’t need umbrellas; they will need safe houses with 30-foot thick walls made of Martian clay that can withstand radiation storms.

During a space storm, hurricane-force gusts hit Mars at full force. Those winds, containing X-rays and particle rays emitted from solar flares and coronal mass ejections — clumps of high-energy particles belched by the Sun — sweep past the planet’s weak magnetic field and atmosphere and strike the surface directly.

Dube has won NASA funding to develop a monitoring system that will provide a level of protection for people on Mars, underneath the red planet’s thin atmosphere.

Double Whammy

There’s a double whammy to Dube’s work.

As an additional benefit, the technology will give advanced warning of space storms threatening the critical infrastructure here on Earth, including the power grid, GPS navigation and sensitive communication satellites.

The system Dube envisions includes sensors and small solar observatories at the Mars colony or near the planetary pole for continual view of the solar surface.

Special purpose satellites already positioned between the Sun and the Earth will require advanced sensors and algorithms to detect signs of a dangerous flux of particles in order to provide warnings to both Earth and Mars.

“The technology we’re building uses existing satellites and solar telescopes that are in orbit or in space,” says Dube in an RIT press statement.

“Our innovation will be to add artificial intelligence to the recognition of space storms. Initially the technology will be used to calculate the probability of the Earth being hit by a space weather storm, and once we’ve got that we’ll determine the orbital calculations for Mars,” Dube explains.

“Mars does not enjoy the defenses against such storms that Earth has,” Dube adds.

According to Dube, his work to create a better monitoring system is one that could provide at least three days advanced warning for people living on Earth and Mars.

By LD/CSE

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