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Sun-Earth Day 2009: Our Sun Yours to Discover.

Sun-Earth Day 2009: Our Sun Yours to Discover

ScienceBits - October 2008

Hinode - The sun continues to languish in a prolonged solar minimum which has continued for nearly a full year. On September 22, a new cycle region appeared on the northwest quadrant of the solar disk. By September 23, the region had been numbered AR 11002 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Observations made by the high-resolution Hinode solar telescope shows the local effect of the active region on the corona; the magnetic field of the active region essentially heats the volume of gas above it, causing the corona to glow brightly in X rays.
More @ http://solarb.msfc.nasa.gov/

IBEX - The Interstellar Boundary Explorer is set for launch on October 5. The satellite will orbit earth at about 300,000 km, placing it well outside earth's magnetic field .This will enable it to detect high-energy neutral particles (called ENAs) created at the interstellar medium/heliopause boundary, as they flow past earth. By measuring their direction and speed over time, a 'picture' can be created of where the boundary is located, and what kinds of physical phenomena are taking place there. Unlike Voyager 1 and II, which detected only particles where they were specifically located, IBEX will literally take a picture of the boundary zone across much of the sky as viewed from earth.
More @ http://www.ibex.swri.edu/

MESSENGER - The spacecraft will make its second flyby of mercury on October 8. Launched on August 3, 2004 it has already made two flybys of Venus on October 24, 2006 and June 5, 2007. It reached mercury for its first flyby on January 14, 2008. During MESSENGER's first Mercury encounter, the Mercury Laser Altimeter (MLA) provided the first direct measurements of the topography of Mercury from spacecraft. The results provide evidence for a complex geologic history and indicate that Mercury's craters are shallower than those on the Moon at a given crater diameter, as expected because of the higher surface gravity.
More @ http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/

STEREO - The two spacecraft (Ahead and Behind) continue to separate, by orbit design, so that they are 66 degrees apart from each other as of August 5, 2008. This allows them to see more and more of the Sun at the same time. The Behind spacecraft can see 31 degrees more of the Sun than can be seen from Earth. Last June, STEREO made possibly the first 3D measurements of a solar jet. Jets are columns of super hot plasma (hot ionized gases at over a million degrees) which shoot out from the sun over the course of just a few minutes - this one reached velocities of 300 km/s (650,000 miles/hour). It was over 10,000 kilometers high and nearly half as wide as the Earth.
More @ http://stereo.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Solar Dynamics Observatory is currently scheduled for launch in January 2010, with a 50/50 chance of launching in June/July 2009.
More @ http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Solar Heliospheric Observatory - The SOHO mission is nearing the half-way mark on its current two-year mission extension which expires in December 2009. This last June, it celebrated the discovery of its 1500-th comet using the satellites LASCO coronagraphic instrument. In September, SOHO also observed an active region with the first new cycle sunspot since May 10, 2008. After weeks of a spotless Sun and very few sunspots this entire year, a small new sunspot emerged briefly, but then the visible spot broke up in a day or so. It had both the magnetic orientation and the position at a high latitude of a sunspot belonging to the new solar cycle, Cycle 24.
More @ http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/

Ulysses - After nearly 18 years, the Ulysses mission is on the verge of being shut down as the onboard power systems continue their decline. Since July, Ulysses has been operating in real-time telemetry mode at greatly reduced transmission rates in order to improve the detectability of the signal by the 70-meter Goldstone Tracking Station. As power continues to decline, onboard heaters will no longer be able to prevent the hydrazine fuel from freezing, resulting in the loss of spacecraft maneuverability. The mission is currently operating ion a day-to-day basis.
More @ http://ulysses.jpl.nasa.gov/

PeopleBits - October 2008

Isabel Hawkins, formerly the co-lead for the NASA/SMD Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum, will be retiring in October following a decade of service to NASA in promoting formal and informal space science education. She was previously an astrophysicist with the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE) mission.

Stephanie Stockman is the newly appointed lead for Education within the NASA's Science Mission Directorate. She was formerly the Education Lead for the Lunar Reconnissance Orbiter at the NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center, and has spent 16 years involved in NASA education programs in earth and space science.

Aleya Van Doren is now the new EPO coordinator for the Solar Dynamics Observatory, and will be responsible for formal education-related activities for that mission.

Theresa Kucera is starting a NASA Headquarters detail in October. Mr. Steele Hill will become the new STEREO EPO lead.

EducationBits - October 2008

Hinode - Mathematics is far out!!! The Hinode mission continues to create innovative math problems and resources through its Space Math @ NASA program, (spacemath.gsfc.nasa.gov) now celebrating its 5th year in operation. 18 new math problems for grades 3-12 are now online, with new batches planned for January and March. Five math guides and compendia were submitted for IGES product review. The NASA Portal is featuring the first three math guides, Space Math I, II and II for convenient download and printing. The mission has also designed a dramatic 1-page colored flyer for advertising its mathematics resources as part of the NASA, Sun-Earth Day 2009 Teacher Resource Packet.
More @ http://spacemath.gsfc.nasa.gov

IBEX has submitted 11 products to the IGES product review and NASA's CMR and will be contributing IBEX resources to the SED Teacher Resource Packet. A webcast of launch on Oct 5 as well as a video con for museums and other interested parties.
More @ http://ibex.swri.edu/educators/index.shtml

Magnetosphere Multi-Scale mission is adapting a 3-D magnetic field model to use for videos or planetarium shows since, after 10 years of education outreach, it is still hard for students and citizens to visualize the magnetosphere. The chief question to be illustrated is, 'What is magnetic reconnection and how is NASA trying to understand it?'
More @ http://stargazers.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Solar Dynamics Observatory is holding 'Exploration Station' events on Sunday Dec. 14th at the AGU meeting, and AstroZone Sat Jan 3rd at the AAS meeting. Exploration Station December will be at the Marriott and teacher reception that Tuesday evening. AstroZone, Jan 3rd will be in Long Beach at the convention center. k-12 reception. on 4th at Omni Hotel across the street (AAS).
More @ http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/epo/101/mission/mission_overview.php

STEREO 3-D posters have been made. They will be available in the SECEF packet - is actually made from real STEREO images.
More @ http://stereo.gsfc.nasa.gov/classroom/classroom.shtml

THEMIS is developing a postcard that will be distributed especially for IYA through Night Sky Network of the ASP and their teacher network.
More @ http://themis.ssl.berkeley.edu/index.shtml

View the Mercury flyby! See Mercury through the "eyes" of MESSENGER's imagers with the Mercury Flyby Visualization Tool, now available at http://messenger.jhuapl.edu/encountersm2/. This updated Web feature offers a unique opportunity to see simulated views of Mercury from MESSENGER's perspective, during approach, flyby, and departure, or in real-time as the observations actually occur.

NASA Fact

Some sunspots are cool enough that water vapor can form at a temperature of 1,550 °C.