Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

STEREO panoramic images improve solar storm tracking

05.03.2007
The latest panoramic images from NASA’s twin STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory) spacecraft enable scientists to track solar storms from the sun to the Earth for the first time.

“The new view from the STEREO spacecraft will greatly improve our ability to forecast the arrival time of severe space weather,” said Dr Russell Howard of the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, the Principal Investigator of STEREO’s Sun-Earth Connection Coronal and Heliospheric Investigation (SECCHI). “Previous imagery did not show the front of a solar disturbance as it travelled towards Earth, so we had to make estimates of when the storm would arrive. These estimates were uncertain by a day or so. With STEREO, we can track the front from the sun all the way to Earth, and forecast its arrival within a couple of hours.”

The panoramic views are created by combining images from the SECCHI suite of instruments, including the Heliospheric Imager on both spacecraft – built in the UK by the University of Birmingham and CCLRC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

Professor Keith Mason, CEO from the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) said, “Despite frequent observations over the last decade many questions remain unanswered about the nature of the Sun-Earth relationship and the way in which solar disturbances travel away from the sun. These new panoramic images illustrate the relationship from an entirely new perspective.”

The instruments on board the STEREO spacecraft allow scientists to track a type of solar disturbance called a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from its birth at the sun towards Earth. CME’s are violent eruptions of electrically charged gas, called plasma, from the sun’s atmosphere. A CME cloud can contain billions of tons of plasma and move at a million miles per hour. As the CME cloud ploughs through the solar system, it slams into the slower solar wind, a thin stream of plasma constantly blowing from the sun. The collision with the solar wind generates a shock that accelerates electrically charged particles in the solar wind, causing radiation storms that can disrupt sensitive electronics on satellites and cause cancer in unshielded astronauts.

Professor Richard Harrison from CCLRC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory is Principal Investigator for the HI instruments. He comments, “The combination of data from the instruments onboard STEREO have meant a dramatic improvement in the level of accuracy of solar storm prediction, illustrating how space research really can impact on operations on Earth.”

A CME cloud is also laced with magnetic fields and CMEs directed our way smash into Earth's magnetic field. If the CME magnetic fields have the proper orientation, they dump energy and particles into Earth's magnetic field, causing magnetic storms that can overload power line equipment. Satellite and utility operators can take precautions to minimize CME damage, but they need an accurate forecast of when the CME will arrive.

Dr Chris Davis, a member of the UK STEREO team from CCLRC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory said, ““Every new image from STEREO provides us with further detail about the properties of CME’s forever adding to our knowledge. It is exciting to think that the best images, providing a 3D view of the Sun, are yet to come.”

The two observatories will orbit the sun, one slightly ahead of Earth and one slightly behind, separating from each other by approximately 45 degrees per year. Just as the slight offset between your eyes provides you with depth perception, this separation of the spacecraft will allow them to take 3-D images and particle measurements of the sun. Scientists will use the 3-D views to discover new details about the structure of CME clouds, and to see how that structure evolves as the clouds move through space. The first 3-D views are expected in April.

Gill Ormrod | alfa
Further information:
http://www.pparc.ac.uk
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/stereo/news/panorama_media.html

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Molecule flash mob
19.01.2017 | Technische Universität Wien

nachricht Magnetic moment of a single antiproton determined with greatest precision ever
19.01.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland

19.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Not of Divided Mind

19.01.2017 | Life Sciences

Molecule flash mob

19.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>