THEMIS discovers new process that protects Earth from space weather

In the giant system that connects Earth to the sun, one key event happens over and over: solar material streams toward Earth and the giant magnetic bubble around Earth, the magnetosphere helps keep it at bay. The parameters, however, change: The particles streaming in could be from the constant solar wind, or perhaps from a giant cloud erupting off the sun called a coronal mass ejection, or CME. Sometimes the configuration is such that the magnetosphere blocks almost all the material, other times the connection is long and strong, allowing much material in. Understanding just what circumstances lead to what results is a key part of protecting our orbiting spacecraft from the effects of such space weather.

Click on the image to set the scene in motion. NASA’s THEMIS mission…

Health authorities admit 'wind turbine syndrome' is real

An Irish health official has warned that people who live near massive wind turbines of the sort used to generate electricity run the risk of having their physical and psychological health compromised.

According to a report in the Irish Examiner newspaper, the official — Dr. Colette Bonner — says further that people who are at risk of the controversial wind turbine syndrome need to be treated “appropriately and sensitively as these symptoms can be debilitating.”

As the paper reported:

Following a review of international research on the health effects of wind turbine noise, the Department of Health’s deputy chief medical officer concluded that wind turbines are not a threat to public health, but “there is a consistent cluster of symptoms…

Airborne radar demonstrates ability to foresee sinkholes

New analyses of NASA airborne radar data collected in 2012 reveal the radar detected indications of a huge sinkhole before it collapsed and forced evacuations near Bayou Corne, Louisiana, that year.

The findings suggest such radar data, if collected routinely from airborne systems or satellites, could at least in some cases foresee sinkholes before they happen, decreasing danger to people and property.

Sinkholes are depressions in the ground formed when Earth surface layers collapse into caverns below. They usually form without warning. The data were collected as part of an ongoing NASA campaign to monitor sinking of the ground along the Louisiana Gulf Coast.

Researchers Cathleen Jones and Ron Blom of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., analyzed…