Tag Archives: NASA


Powerful geomagnetic storms are set to hit Earth’s magnetic field Wednesday night into early Thursday after the sun ejected nearly 20 solar flares from an Earth-facing single sunspot in recent days.

The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), a division of NOAA, said a strong geomagnetic storm (rated 3 out of 5) is expected to peak in the early morning hours of Thursday.

The eruptions on the sun originated Monday from a superactive sunspot called AR2975, expelling as many as 17 flares. SpaceWeather warns “at least two, possibly three, coronal mass ejections (CMEs)” are headed to Earth.

When one CME slams into Earth’s magnetic field and another one follows, that’s known as a “cannibal CME” and can result in “tangled magnetic fields and compressed plasmas that can spark strong geomagnetic storms” according to SpaceWeather, meaning that the dazzling northern lights will be seen closer to the equator than usual.

“Because these two have merged together or are merging together, that’s often an indication that the CME will be a bit stronger. It’s more stuff coming.

“Also, it means that there’s a better chance that the magnetic field will disturb the Earth’s magnetic field,” said Alex Young, a solar astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Young said this CME activity was also accompanied by a “solar tsunami” (also known as an EIT wave, so named for its discovery using the EUV Imaging Telescope), a shock wave that typically indicates an energetic CME. Satellite data show the shock wave propagating across the sun. –WaPo

Northern light sightings are possible for Oregon, Montana, South Dakota, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and Massachusetts.

SWPC has warned of a “shortwave radio blackout over the Americas.” They pointed to a blackout map that engulfed much of the Eastern Hemisphere.

None of this should be surprising as Sunspot Cycle 25 has already begun and is expected to be an active one could be terrible news for the digital economy as disruptions sparked by geomagnetic storms create economic damage. Because it’s a “cannibal CME,” more potential energy could spark a rather powerful geomagnetic storm.

Last month, Elon Musk’s satellite internet service Starlink lost 40 satellites after a geomagnetic storm knocked them out of orbit. The question for Starlink customers is if they can still maintain a downlink during tonight’s storm.

Republished from ZeroHedge.com with permission

Amazing Fungus Discovered at Chernobyl Could Protect Astronauts from Toxic Space Radiation

Andy Corbley 
Aug 13, 2020

A type of fungus that uses nuclear radiation as energy could serve as a possible form of protection, shielding astronauts from potential harm.

Outside of the protective magnetosphere and atmosphere of Earth, astronauts are showered with a twenty-fold higher amount of ionizing radiation—levels that would prove unsustainable without protection. But a discovery at the nuclear accident site of Chernobyl in Ukraine, has offered a possible solution.

A team of scientists from Stanford and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, discovered a type of fungus growing inside the destroyed reactors of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, and thought if there are forms of life that can survive advanced radiation exposure long-term, they might be able to help protect astronauts on extraterrestrial voyages.

The fungus, called cladosporium sphaerospermum, uses melanin pigments to convert gamma radiation into chemical energy in a process called radiosynthesis. Observing this process led to the scientists arranging with NASA for the fungus to be sent to the International Space Station (ISS) for testing.

A living shield

Image by NASA

At the ISS, the experiment produced mixed results. The fungus was placed on around half of the surface of a petri dish. For the next 30 days, radiation levels were measured to compare how much passed through the fungus and glass compared to just the glass on the bare half of the dish.

Radiation levels were reduced by 2%, which wasn’t what the scientists were hoping for. However, the relatively low number doesn’t mean the experiments were a failure.

MORE LiKE THIS: Fungi Discovered In The Amazon Can Devour Plastic in Landfills

Writing in the abstract of the pre-peer review journal BioRxiv, the scientists detail how their results could be extrapolated to produce an almost entirely zero-cost barrier for future Mars or lunar mission astronauts, vehicles, and structures.

“Estimations based on linear attenuation coefficients indicated that a 21 cm (8 inch) thick layer of this fungus could largely negate the annual dose-equivalent of the radiation environment on the surface of Mars.”

Putting on our sci-fi thinking caps, we’d have to imagine a Mars station on which astronauts would have to grow an 8-inch thick screen of fungus across the roof and walls of their base, transforming it into a mass of greyish filaments studded with toadstools like Yoda’s hut in Star Wars, or Radagast the Brown’s house in The Hobbit.

It sounds like the stuff of fantasy, but it could save lives while costing space exploration investors almost nothing.

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