From EARTH Magazine -- On March 13, 1989, a geomagnetic storm spawned by a solar outburst struck Earth, triggering instabilities in the electric-power grid that serves much of eastern Canada and the U.S. The storm led to blackouts for more than 6 million customers and caused tens of millions of dollars in damages and economic losses. More than 25 years later, the possibility of another such catastrophe still looms, and the day-to-day effects of space weather on electrical systems remain difficult to quantify.
This month, the Space Place is doing something a little bit different for their monthly column—providing you with a beautifully informative and educational poster (attached below) about the mechanics of our sun. This poster accompanies their latest "Space Place in a Snap" animation. This "Snap" series is a set of narrated videos and posters that, together, explain basic scientific concepts in a dynamic new medium. Entertaining in their own right, they also wish to bring this new resource to your attention as an educational tool.
Last week NASA’s MAVEN probe began orbiting Mars in an effort to measure and map the Martian atmosphere. Today, Mars, known as the red planet, is bone dry and it’s atmosphere is being broken down by the sun’s solar winds, but evidence shows that it was once much more like Earth. From liquid channels to lake beds, there is clear evidence that Mars once had water as well as a magnetic field. So what happened to this water? These are the answers the MAVEN is searching for by mapping Mars’ current atmosphere. Listen to learn more about this important mission.
By Dr. Ethan Siegel -- As bright and steady as they appear, the stars in our sky won't shine forever. The steady brilliance of these sources of light is powered by a tumultuous interior, where nuclear processes fuse light elements and isotopes into heavier ones. Because the heavier nuclei up to iron (Fe), have a greater binding energies-per-nucleon, each reaction results in a slight reduction of the star's mass, converting it into energy via Einstein's famous equation relating changes in mass and energy output, E = mc2.
A carefully trained eye in perfect conditions can spot the dim light of Uranus without a telescope. Despite this fact, it wasn’t officially discovered until 1781—thousands of years after the other visible planets were documented. Part of the problem was not finding it, but correctly identifying it. Read all about it in the Space Place’s latest column: http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/uranus/en/.
The Space Place is a NASA educational website about space and Earth sciences and technologies. It targets upper-elementary-aged-children.
NASA's Space Place in a SNAP! is a series of quick, narrated tours of animated infographics that illustrate key science concepts. Not only are they fun and entertaining on their own, they also come with a downloadable poster and a transcript of the video, making for a cross-disciplinary learning experience.
By Dr. Ethan Siegel -- When you think about gravitation here on Earth, you very likely think about how constant it is, at 9.8 m/s2 (32 ft/s2). Only, that's not quite right. Depending on how thick the Earth's crust is, whether you're slightly closer to or farther from the Earth's center, or what the density of the material beneath you is, you'll experience slight variations in Earth's gravity as large as 0.2%, something you'd need to account for if you were a pendulum-clock-maker.
By Dr. Ethan Siegel - Whether you look at the planets within our solar system, the stars within our galaxy or the galaxies spread throughout the universe, it's striking how empty outer space truly is. Even though the largest concentrations of mass are separated by huge distances, interstellar space isn't empty: it's filled with dilute amounts of gas, dust, radiation and ionized plasma.
By Dr. Ethan Siegel -- As we look at the universe on larger and larger scales, from stars to galaxies to groups to the largest galaxy clusters, we become able to perceive objects that are significantly farther away. But as we consider these larger classes of objects, they don't merely emit increased amounts of light, but they also contain increased amounts of mass. Under the best of circumstances, these gravitational clumps can open up a window to the distant universe well beyond what any astronomer could hope to see otherwise.
From Penn State -- The Man in the Moon appeared when meteoroids struck the Earth-facing side of the moon creating large flat seas of basalt that we see as dark areas called maria. But no "face" exists on farside of the moon and now, astrophysicists think they know why. This mystery is called the Lunar Farside Highlands Problem and dates back to 1959, when the Soviet spacecraft Luna 3 transmitted the first images of the "dark" side of the moon back to Earth.