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12 November 2018

Powerful solar storm likely detonated mines during Vietnam War

A strong solar storm in 1972 caused widespread disturbances to satellites and spacecraft, and may have led to the detonation of mines during the Vietnam War, according to new research showing the event may have been a more devastating solar storm than previously thought. In a new study, researchers pieced together data and historical records related to the solar activity of 1972 to better understand the nature of the solar storm. In the process, they uncovered an incident where sea mines off the coast of Vietnam were detonated by the solar event.

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18 October 2018

Sounds of a Solar Storm

High school students listening to audio tracks of NOAA satellite data have identified the sounds of solar storms buffeting Earth’s magnetic field. The results of a UK-led citizen science project suggest that the approach of converting physical data into sound signals could help NOAA and other scientists make sense of massive amounts of data from satellites and other instruments.

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17 August 2018

New technology could improve radiation risk warnings for future deep-space astronauts

New technology that detects radiation from the Sun in real time and immediately predicts subsequent health risks could protect astronauts on future deep-space missions, according to a new study. Astronauts face dangers during solar energetic particle, or SEP, events, which occur when an eruption in the Sun’s atmosphere hurls high-energy protons out into space. These protons can penetrate the walls of a spacecraft and enter the human body. This radiation can cause immediate effects such as nausea, performance degradation and other acute radiation syndromes, while long-term effects can include cancer, degenerative tissue damage, heart disease and damage to the central nervous system.

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17 May 2018

A bolt of insight

A new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres observes rare terrestrial gamma ray flashes produced by lightning strikes.

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21 March 2018

August 2017 SpaceX rocket launch created large circular shock wave

The unusual trajectory the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket took when delivering a Taiwanese satellite into orbit last August created an atmospheric shock wave four times bigger than the area of California, a new study finds.

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16 March 2018

New study finds space radiation is increasingly more hazardous

As future missions look to travel back to the moon or even to Mars, new research cautions that the exposure to radiation is much higher than previously thought and could have serious implications on both astronauts and satellite technology.

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18 December 2017

NASA Solves How a Jupiter Jet Stream Shifts into Reverse

Speeding through the atmosphere high above Jupiter’s equator is an east–west jet stream that reverses course on a schedule almost as predictable as a Tokyo train’s. Now, a NASA-led team has identified which type of wave forces this jet to change direction.

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19 September 2017

Giant ‘space hurricanes’ propelled by solar wind may impact satellite safety, study finds

Could the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Costa Rica set off a hurricane in California? The question has been scrutinized by chaos theorists, stock-market analysts and weather forecasters for decades. For most people, this hypothetical scenario may be difficult to imagine on Earth – particularly when a real disaster strikes.

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25 July 2017

Researchers uncover 200-year-old sunspot drawings in Maine

In April of 1815, the volcanic eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia caused a global decrease in temperatures for the following few years, and 1816 came to be known as the “year without a summer.” New England states were particularly hard hit by these temperature changes, which significantly affected agriculture production and quality of life. Alongside his journal entries, Reverend Jonathan Fisher of Blue Hill, Maine sketched the sunspots during the summer of 1816, thinking they might be responsible for the cold summer temperatures.

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24 July 2017

NASA mission surfs through waves in space to understand space weather

The space surrounding our planet is full of restless charged particles and roiling electric and magnetic fields, which create waves around Earth. One type of wave, plasmaspheric hiss, is particularly important for removing charged particles from the Van Allen radiation belts, a seething coil of particles encircling Earth, which can interfere with satellites and telecommunications. A new study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Space Physics, a journal of the American Geophysical Union, used data from NASA’s Van Allen Probes spacecraft to discover that hiss is more complex than previously understood.

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