The Brazilian World Cup celebrations may have started to die down, but in space the never-ending football match between the Sun and Earth continues. And watching this match closely are Salsa, Samba, Rumba and Tango, the four satellites that make up the Cluster mission. They are performing their Brazilian dances 119 000 kilometres above our heads.
With all the grace and skill of the Brazilian players on the football field, the spacecraft making up the Cluster quartet are currently changing their tactical positions to get a different view of the Sun`s effects on Earth`s magnetosphere. The Cluster spacecraft have been marking the activity of the Sun, and the powerful particles it kicks towards Earth, for two years. In particular, the four spacecraft are studying the outer edges of Earth`s magnetosphere, which are stretched and pulled in different directions as they are bombarded by the Sun`s particles.
As they dance around each other, the Cluster satellites can move close together with only 100 km between them to get a close-up view of these tiny particles. Then they can pull away from each other as far back as 20 000 km to get the bigger picture. Breakthrough data from Cluster confirmed that the outer regions of the magnetosphere are constantly being rocked by `big waves` that resemble ocean rollers.
For this particular dance step, Cluster will be withdrawing from a close-up formation to a distance of 3800 km. This is the third time that Cluster has changed its configuration since it began its operations.
Studying the physics of the magnetosphere is fundamental for us because although we rely on the Sun for its light and warmth, not all its gifts are so beneficial. The stream of invisible charged particles flashes towards Earth at speeds of up to 1000 kilometres per second, while explosions on the Sun regularly send millions of tonnes of gas our way.
If we did not have Earth`s magnetosphere to protect us, our attitude towards the Sun would be very different. Even with this natural protective bubble wrapped around us, solar particles can sometimes enter Earth`s upper atmosphere, creating enormous electrical currents around our planet, which can have dramatic consequences. As well as creating the beautiful coloured light displays of the auroras, or Northern and Southern Lights, these currents can in fact lead to widespread power blackouts, damage to communications satellites and navigation systems, and even corrosion in oil pipelines.
"The Sun and the Earth play a never-ending football game," says Philippe Escoubet, Cluster project scientist. "The Sun is kicking particles towards Earth, which is the goal, and our magnetosphere acts as the goalkeeper. Some of the particles are deflected by the magnetosphere, but some get past it, scoring goals which disrupt Earth`s activities. Sometimes the Sun is very quiet, but when it`s active we get a lot of balls flying in this direction."
Philippe Escoubet | AlphaGalileo
A promising target in the quest for a 1-million-year-old Antarctic ice core
24.05.2018 | University of Washington
Tropical Peat Swamps: Restoration of Endangered Carbon Reservoirs
24.05.2018 | Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenforschung (ZMT)
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences