From NASA Science News via our friend Richard Nolle.
Solar Storm Dumps Gigawatts into Earth's Upper Atmosphere
A recent flurry of eruptions on the sun did more than spark pretty auroras around the poles. NASA-funded researchers say the solar storms of March 8th through 10th dumped enough energy in Earth’s upper atmosphere to power every residence in New York City for two years.
“This was the biggest dose of heat we’ve received from a solar storm since 2005,” says Martin Mlynczak of NASA Langley Research Center. “It was a big event, and shows how solar activity can directly affect our planet.”
Mlynczak is the associate principal investigator for the SABER instrument onboard NASA’s TIMED satellite. SABER monitors infrared emissions from Earth’s upper atmosphere, in particular from carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitric oxide (NO), two substances that play a key role in the energy balance of air hundreds of km above our planet’s surface.
“Carbon dioxide and nitric oxide are natural thermostats,” explains James Russell of Hampton University, SABER’s principal investigator. “When the upper atmosphere (or ‘thermosphere’) heats up, these molecules try as hard as they can to shed that heat back into space.”
That’s what happened on March 8th when a coronal mass ejection (CME) propelled in our direction by an X5-class solar flare hit Earth’s magnetic field. (On the “Richter Scale of Solar Flares,” X-class flares are the most powerful kind.) Energetic particles rained down on the upper atmosphere, depositing their energy where they hit. The action produced spectacular auroras around the poles and significant1 upper atmospheric heating all around the globe.
“The thermosphere lit up like a Christmas tree,” says Russell. “It began to glow intensely at infrared wavelengths as the thermostat effect kicked in.”
For the three day period, March 8th through 10th, the thermosphere absorbed 26 billion kWh of energy. Infrared radiation from CO2 and NO, the two most efficient coolants in the thermosphere, re-radiated 95% of that total back into space.
In human terms, this is a lot of energy. According to the New York City mayor’s office, an average NY household consumes just under 4700 kWh annually. This means the geomagnetic storm dumped enough energy into the atmosphere to power every home in the Big Apple for two years.
From one of our favorite sites Space.com, or as we like to call it around here, Dobbs' Folly.
And again we remind you that not once has anyone around here ever claimed to be a real nice person.
As always the photo links you up to the entire article which as always at Space.com links you up to a raft of other interesting stuff.
Huge NASA Satellite Falling to Earth Is Largest in 30 Years
by Denise Chow, 21 September 2011 Time: 06:00 AM ET
A dead climate satellite that has been gradually falling toward Earth is expected to plummet down within days, making it the most massive NASA satellite to make an uncontrolled re-entry into Earth's atmosphere in over three decades, agency officals say.
NASA's Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite, or UARS, is expected to plunge toward Earth sometime around Friday (Sept. 23), based on the latest estimates by the agency's orbital debris experts.
The bus-size UARS satellite is one of the largest NASA satellites to plunge back to Earth uncontrolled in more than 30 years.
As you might well expect the best, which is to say clearest and easiest to understand comes from NASA.
As always click the drawing to read the entire piece.
Be smarter than your friends.
NASA Announces Results of Epic Space-Time Experiment
Einstein was right again. There is a space-time vortex around Earth, and its shape precisely matches the predictions of Einstein's theory of gravity.
Researchers confirmed these points at a press conference today at NASA headquarters where they announced the long-awaited results of Gravity Probe B (GP-B).
"The space-time around Earth appears to be distorted just as general relativity predicts," says Stanford University physicist Francis Everitt, principal investigator of the Gravity Probe B mission.
Time and space, according to Einstein's theories of relativity, are woven together, forming a four-dimensional fabric called "space-time." The mass of Earth dimples this fabric, much like a heavy person sitting in the middle of a trampoline. Gravity, says Einstein, is simply the motion of objects following the curvaceous lines of the dimple.
Click the photo below to link up to the facebook page of the NASA Solar Dynamics Laboratory for a video of "a huge filament of megnetism and hot plasma blasting off in the Sun's southwestern limb around 1200 UT" yesterday.
We have not clue one with regards to what that means, but it's a pretty cool vid.