Solar storms linked to mass strandings of whales

Mass strandings of whales have often been documented, but their causes remain unclear. Researchers from Europe have just published a study in the International Journal of Astrobiology suggesting that some strandings are triggered by strong geomagnetic storms such as the one headed for Earth now. On Sept. 4th, active sunspot AR2673 hurled a CME toward Earth. Estimated…

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NASA: Human activities now affecting space

From the “worse than we thought” department and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center comes this: Space weather events linked to human activity Our Cold War history is now offering scientists a chance to better understand the complex space system that surrounds us. Space weather — which can include changes in Earth’s magnetic environment — are…

Spaceweather protection bill passes the Senate

From the “a single Carrington event can ruin your whole day, er, life” department: WASHINGTON — The Senate unanimously passed a bill May 2 intended to support space weather research and planning to protect critical infrastructure from solar storms. The Senate passed, via unanimous consent, the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act. The bill cleared…

NASA's missions reveal the origin of theta auroras

Auroras are the most visible manifestation of the sun’s effect on Earth, but many aspects of these spectacular displays are still poorly understood. Thanks to the joint European Space Agency and NASA’s Cluster mission combined with data from a past NASA mission called the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration, or IMAGE, a particular type of…

Observing the Birkeland currents borne of the solar wind

  When the supersonic solar wind hits the Earth’s magnetic field, a powerful electrical connection occurs with Earth’s field, generating millions of amperes of current that drive the dazzling auroras. These so-called Birkeland currents connect the ionosphere to the magnetosphere and channel solar wind energy to Earth’s uppermost atmosphere. Solar storms release torrential blasts of solar…