While people across the nation gazed at August’s total solar eclipse from Earth, a bread loaf-sized NASA satellite had a front row seat for the astronomical event.
Eighty-eight percent of American adults viewed the August total solar eclipse directly or electronically. This audience of 215 million adults is nearly twice the size of the viewership of recent Super Bowl football games.
Charged particles may be small, but they matter to astronauts. NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) is investigating these particles to solve one of its biggest challenges for a human journey to Mars: space radiation and its effects on the human body.
When Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) passed just 140,000 kilometers from Mars on 19th October 2014, depositing a large amount of debris in the Martian atmosphere, space agencies coordinated multiple spacecraft to witness the largest meteor shower in recorded history. It was a rare opportunity, as this kind of planetary event occurs only once every 100,000 years.
Could the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in Costa Rica set off a hurricane in California? For most people, this hypothetical scenario may be difficult to imagine on Earth — particularly when a real disaster strikes. Yet, in space, similarly small fluctuations in the solar wind as it streams toward the Earth’s magnetic shield actually can affect the speed and strength of ‘space hurricanes,’ a researcher explains.