On August 20, 2013 at 4:24 a.m. EDT, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection, or CME, a solar phenomenon which can send billions of tons of particles into space that can reach Earth one to three days later. These particles cannot travel through the atmosphere to harm humans on Earth, but they can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground.
Experimental NASA research models, based on observations from NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, show that the CME left the sun at speeds of around 570 miles per second, which is a fairly typical speed for CMEs.
To see images of this CME and read more, visit https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/20130820-nasa-spacecraft-capture-earth-directed-coronal-mass-ejection/index.html#.UhOSCYWC4vQ
This story is a great extension to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Geometry: Space Math Problems—Solar Storms. To access this lesson, visit the NES Virtual Campus at http://explorerschools.nasa.gov.
The moment when a telescope first opens its doors represents the culmination of years of work and planning — while simultaneously laying the groundwork for a wealth of research and answers yet to come. It is a moment of excitement and perhaps even a little uncertainty. On July 17, 2013, the international team of scientists and engineers who supported and built NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, all lived through that moment. As the spacecraft orbited around Earth, the door of the telescope opened to view the mysterious lowest layers of the sun’s atmosphere and the results thus far are nothing short of amazing. The data is crisp and clear, showing unprecedented detail of this little-observed region.
To read more about IRIS and see images of the sun’s atmosphere, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/iris-telescope-first-glimpse-of-suns-mysterious-atmosphere/index.html#.Ufa_zYXTovQ
This story is a great extension to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Geometry: Space Math Problems—Solar Storms. To access this lesson, visit the NES Virtual Campus at: http://explorerschools.nasa.gov.
Solar activity continued on May 14, as the sun emitted a fourth X-class flare from its upper left limb, peaking at 9:48 p.m. EDT. This flare is classified as an X1.2 flare and is the 18th X-class flare of the current solar cycle. The flare caused a radio blackout – categorized as an R3, or strong, on NOAA’s space weather scales from R1 to R5 — which has since subsided.
The flare was also associated with a non-Earth-directed Coronal Mass Ejection. CMEs and flares are separate but related solar phenomena: solar flares are powerful bursts that send light and radiation into space; CMEs erupt with billions of tons of solar material. They often, but do not always, occur together. Any time we can see a solar flare from Earth’s view, than at least some of its light and radiation must be directed at Earth. CMEs on the other hand may or may not be Earth directed. NASA observes CMEs even when they are not traveling toward Earth, because they may impact spacecraft.
To read more and see some incredible imagery on this solar activity, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/News051513-ar1748.html.
This story is a great real-world connection to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Geometry: Space Math Problems—Solar Storms. To access this lesson, visit the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.
Many areas of scientific research — Earth’s weather, ocean currents, the outpouring of magnetic energy from the sun — require mapping out the large scale features of a complex system and its intricate details simultaneously.
Describing such systems accurately, relies on numerous kinds of input, beginning with observations of the system, incorporating mathematical equations to approximate those observations, running computer simulations to attempt to replicate observations, and cycling back through all the steps to refine and improve the models until they jibe with what’s seen. Ultimately, the models successfully help scientists describe, and even predict, how the system works.
To read more about the math involved with solar activity studies, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/math-solarwind.html.
This research provides an extension to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Geometry: Space Math Problems—Solar Storms. To access this lesson, visit the NES Virtual Campus.
With the moon as the most prominent object in the night sky and a major source of an invisible pull that creates ocean tides, many ancient cultures thought it could also affect our health or state of mind — the word “lunacy” has its origin in this belief. Now, a powerful combination of spacecraft and computer simulations is revealing that the moon does indeed have a far-reaching, invisible influence — on the sun, or more specifically, the solar wind.
To read more about our moon’s effect on solar wind, visit https://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/electric-moon.html.
This article is a great extension to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Geometry: Space Math Problems — Solar Storms. To access this lesson, visit http://explorerschools.nasa.gov.
Link to the NES Virtual Campus home page.
How do NASA scientists use geometry and measurement to predict the behavior of dangerous solar storms?
Use the problems in the NES featured lesson, Geometry: Space Math Problems — Solar Storms, to bring relevance to your classroom by connecting your lesson to recent solar activity. In these problems, students analyze images of a solar tsunami and use geometry and measurement skills to find the speed of the wave. They step into the shoes of a NASA scientist and use geometry to find the speed of a coronal mass ejection, or CME, also known as a solar storm. CMEs can have hazardous effects on the International Space Station and astronauts.
The solar flare (upper-left) on 7 March 2012 seen by the SWAP
instrument on ESA’s Proba-2 satellite.