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QUIET SUN: The sunspot number is high, but solar activity is low. None of the dark cores peppering the surface of the sun has the type of complex magnetic field that harbors energy for strong flares. NOAA forecasters put the odds of an X-class solar flare today at no more than 1%. Solar flare alerts: text, voice
WEEKEND AURORAS: A fast-moving stream of solar wind expected to hit Earth's magnetic field over the weekend ... did not. Bright auroras appeared anyway. "The the whole sky exploded," reports Truls Tiller, who saw this "big corona" on March 28th while camping outside the village of Skibotn, Norway:
What caused this display? On March 28th, the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) near Earth tipped south, opening a 'crack' in our planet's magnetosphere. The fast solar wind had not yet arrived. Even so, there was plenty of slow solar wind in the area to flow through the crack and fuel the outburst.
NOAA forecasters believe the tardy stream of solar wind is still coming. When it arrives, possibly on March 30th or 31st, the solar wind speed around Earth will surge from ~300 km/s (slow) to ~700 km/s (fast). The increase could spark even brighter lights than the ones Tiller saw. High-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras as the new week begins. Aurora alerts: text, voice
Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery
STRESS-TESTING HALOBACTERIA: Astrobiologsts have long wondered if halobacteria, a terrestrial extremophile with a special talent for shielding itself from UV radiation, could survive on the planet Mars. To find the answer, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have been flying halobacteria onboard balloons to the top of Earth's atmosphere. On March 24, 2015, this test tube full of microbes traveled to an altitude of 110,000 feet:
During the flight, onboard sensors registered temperatures as low as -60 C, air pressures of 1% sea level, and cosmic radiation levels 40 times Earth-normal. Those are conditions akin to the planet Mars. Two and a half hours after they were launched, the bacteria landed in the Death Valley National Park. This means they experienced a 100 C swing in temperature, a 100-fold change in air pressure, and a 40-fold surge of radiation. A recovery team collected the microbes from the park's Nelson Range on March 25th.
The students have already shown that halobacteria can survive trips like this. But can they survive multiple trips? This same test-tube of microbes will fly again on April 1st, and a third time on April 7th--an unprecedented stress-test for this species. Stay tuned for results.
Hey thanks! The students of Earth to Sky Calculus wish to thank Fokke Fernhout for sponsoring the March 24th flight. His donation of $500 paid for the helium and other supplies necessary to get the balloon off the ground. In exchange, the students flew a Fernhout family photo to the edge of space:
Readers, if you would like to help send halobacteria back to the edge of space for additional stress-testing, sponsorship opportunities are available. Please contact Dr. Tony Phillips for details.
Realtime Eclipse Photo Gallery
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
Realtime Comet Photo Gallery
Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on Spaceweather.com.
On Mar. 30, 2015, the network reported 23 fireballs.
In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs
) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones
all the time.
On March 30, 2015 there were potentially hazardous asteroids. Notes: LD means "Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.
| ||The official U.S. government space weather bureau |
| ||The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena. |
| ||Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever. |
| ||3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory |
| ||Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO. |
| ||from the NOAA Space Environment Center |
| ||the underlying science of space weather |