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Sun Microsystems Space NASA Science

Scientists Need Volunteers To Look At the Sun 110

Hugh Pickens writes "BBC reports that Royal Observatory's 'Solar Stormwatch' needs volunteers to help scientists spot Sun storms — known as coronal mass ejections — before they cause damage on Earth. 'When you look up at the Sun obviously it's too bright to look at properly,' says Dr. Marek Kukula of the Royal Observatory, but 'with special instruments and telescopes you can see there's all sorts of stuff going on.' NASA already monitors the Sun using two 'STEREO' spacecraft that produce 3D images of earth's nearest star, which can show the trajectory of these explosions. However, the sheer amount of data means NASA's scientists are unable to analyze the data as closely as they need — which is where the world's Internet population comes in. After a brief tutorial, users get access to the actual 3-D images taken by the STEREO spacecraft. If a user believes they have spotted the beginnings of a solar storm, they can bring it to the attention of scientists. 'Every little bit counts,' says Kukula. 'I've spoken to the scientists involved and they all agree that even if you log-on and just do it for a few hours, get bored and never touch it again it's all really useful — and helps them to do their work.'"
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Scientists Need Volunteers To Look At the Sun

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  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @06:26PM (#31457706)

    Any coronal ejection EMP pointed at us will arrive just at the time we see it giving us a warning time of a day, perhaps.

    But what could we DO about it?

    Here's a quote from one Mr. Carrington (http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2008/06may_carringtonflare.htm) from the last time this happened in 1859:

    On that morning, he was capturing the likeness of an enormous group of sunspots. Suddenly, before his eyes, two brilliant beads of blinding white light appeared over the sunspots, intensified rapidly, and became kidney-shaped. Realizing that he was witnessing something unprecedented and "being somewhat flurried by the surprise," Carrington later wrote, "I hastily ran to call someone to witness the exhibition with me. On returning within 60 seconds, I was mortified to find that it was already much changed and enfeebled." He and his witness watched the white spots contract to mere pinpoints and disappear.

    It was 11:23 AM. Only five minutes had passed.

    Just before dawn the next day, skies all over planet Earth erupted in red, green, and purple auroras so brilliant that newspapers could be read as easily as in daylight. Indeed, stunning auroras pulsated even at near tropical latitudes over Cuba, the Bahamas, Jamaica, El Salvador, and Hawaii.

    Even more disconcerting, telegraph systems worldwide went haywire. Spark discharges shocked telegraph operators and set the telegraph paper on fire. Even when telegraphers disconnected the batteries powering the lines, aurora-induced electric currents in the wires still allowed messages to be transmitted.

  • by jgeeky ( 974074 ) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:34PM (#31458592) Homepage
    this HAS to be the first manfred mann reference on slashdot. at least, i hope so. well played, sir.

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.