Solar wind
speed: 683.1 km/sec
density: 1.8 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2158 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B3
0001 UT Sep30
24-hr: B3
0001 UT Sep30
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 0600 UT
Daily Sun: 30 Sep 16
Departing sunspot AR2597 has a stable magnetic field that poses little threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 17
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 30 Sep 2016

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2016 total: 20 days (7%)
2015 total: 0 days (0%)

2014 total: 1 day (<1%)
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)

Updated 30 Sep 2016


The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 83 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 30 Sep 2016

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 4 unsettled
24-hr max: Kp= 5
storm
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 5.6 nT
Bz: 1.5 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2158 UT
Coronal Holes: 30 Sep 16

Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing from the indicated coronal hole. Credit: NASA/SDO.
Noctilucent Clouds NASA's AIM spacecraft has suffered an anomaly, and a software patch is required to fix it. As a result, current noctilucent cloud images will not return until late September 2016.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 08-06-2016 16:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2016 Sep 29 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
01 %
01 %
CLASS X
01 %
01 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2016 Sep 29 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
40 %
35 %
MINOR
20 %
15 %
SEVERE
10 %
05 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
15 %
MINOR
25 %
20 %
SEVERE
35 %
30 %
 
Friday, Sep. 30, 2016
What's up in space
       
 

Directly under the Arctic Circle! Marianne's Arctic Xpress in Tromsø offers fjord, whale and wildlife tours by day, aurora tours by night. Book Now and get a 10% discount on combo day and night adventures.

 

COMET LANDING ON FRIDAY: On Friday, Sept. 30th, Europe's Rosetta spacecraft will deliberately crash land on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, ending the probe's two year mission in orbit around the comet's nucleus. With cameras and other instruments taking data until the last moment, Rosetta will descend into a mysterious region known as Ma'at home to several "active pits," which are spewing jets of gas and dust into space. Rosetta's death plunge could be exciting, indeed. NASA TV will cover the event live starting at 3:15 a.m.PDT. Tune in!

NEW MAPS OF THE SOUTH ATLANTIC ANOMALY: Researchers have long known that one of the van Allen Radiation Belts dips down toward Earth over South America, creating a zone of high radiation called "The South Atlantic Anomaly" (SAA). Since its discovery in 1958, the SAA has been shape-shifting, growing larger and intensifying.  A map published just last week in the American Geophysical Union's journal Space Weather Quarterly outlines the anomaly with new precision:


When a spacecraft in low-Earth orbit passes through the anomaly, "the radiation causes faults in spacecraft electronics and can induce false instrument readings," explains Bob Schaefer of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, lead author of the paper reporting the results. "We actually used these spurious signals to map out the radiation environment at an altitude of 850 km."

Specifically, they looked at pulses of noise in an ultraviolet photometer carried aboard many polar orbiting Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) satellites. When high-energy protons in the SAA pass through these sensors, they  produce spurious signals--or, in the case of this study, valuable data. By monitoring the rate of spurious UV pulses, the researchers were able to trace the outlines of the anomaly and monitor its evolution over a period of years.

They found that the anomaly is slowly drifting north and west at rates of 0.16 deg/yr and 0.36 deg/yr, respectively. Currently, it is most intense over a broad region centered on Sao Paulo, Brazil, including much of Paraguay, Uruguay, and northern Argentina. They also detected a seasonal variation: On average, the SAA is most intense in February and again in September-October. In this plot, yearly average counts have been subtracted to reveal the double-peaked pattern:

One maximum coincides with an equinox, but the other does not. The authors were not able to explain the origin of this unexpected pattern. 

The solar cycle matters, too, as the data revealed a yin-yang anti-correlation with sunspots. "During years of high solar activity, the radiation intensity is lower, while during solar quiet years the radiation intensity is higher," writes Schaefer.

According to orthodox thinking, the SAA reaches down from space to within about 200 km of Earth's surface. Below that altitude, its effects should be mitigated by the shielding of Earth's atmosphere and geomagnetic field. To test this idea, Spaceweather.com and Earth to Sky Calculus have undertaken a program to map the SAA from below using weather balloons equipped with radiation sensors.  Next week we will share the results of our first flight from a launch site in Chile.  Stay tuned!

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

SOLAR WIND STORM: Four days ago, Earth entered a fast-moving stream of solar wind. We're still inside. On Sept. 30th, the solar wind is clocking speeds in excess of 650 km/s (1.5 million mph) with little sign of slackening. This is putting pressure on Earth's magnetic field and sparking auroras around the poles. Ian Griffin photographed the colorful glow last night from Otago, New Zealand:

"A beautiful pastel aurora daubed the sky above Hoopers Inlet on the Otago Peninsula on Sept. 29th," says Griffin. "Despite clouds, the view was absolutely sublime."

More auroras are possible tonight. NOAA forecasters estimate a 35% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms on Sept. 30th as the solar wind continues to blow. Free: Aurora Alerts

Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


Realtime Sprite Photo Gallery



  Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere

Updated
: Sept. 29 2016 // Next Flight: Oct. 1, 2016

Sept. 20, 2016: Readers, thank you for your patience while we continue to develop this new section of Spaceweather.com. We've been working to streamline our data reduction, allowing us to post results from balloon flights much more rapidly, and we have developed a new data product, shown here:

This plot displays radiation measurements not only in the stratosphere, but also at aviation altitudes. Dose rates are expessed as multiples of sea level. For instance, we see that boarding a plane that flies at 25,000 feet exposes passengers to dose rates ~10x higher than sea level. At 40,000 feet, the multiplier is closer to 50x. These measurements are made by our usual cosmic ray payload as it passes through aviation altitudes en route to the stratosphere over California.

What is this all about? Approximately once a week, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly space weather balloons to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Furthermore, there are studies ( #1, #2, #3, #4) linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in the general population. Our latest measurements show that cosmic rays are intensifying, with an increase of more than 12% since 2015:


Why are cosmic rays intensifying? The main reason is the sun. Solar storm clouds such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays when they pass by Earth. During Solar Maximum, CMEs are abundant and cosmic rays are held at bay. Now, however, the solar cycle is swinging toward Solar Minimum, allowing cosmic rays to return. Another reason could be the weakening of Earth's magnetic field, which helps protect us from deep-space radiation.

The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

The data points in the graph above correspond to the peak of the Reneger-Pfotzer maximum, which lies about 67,000 feet above central California. When cosmic rays crash into Earth's atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles that is most intense at the entrance to the stratosphere. Physicists Eric Reneger and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.

  All Sky Fireball Network
Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on Spaceweather.com.

On Sep. 29, 2016, the network reported 14 fireballs.
(13 sporadics, 1 Southern Taurid)

In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]

  Near Earth Asteroids
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.
On September 30, 2016 there were potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Size
2016 SW3
Sep 26
1 LD
10 m
2016 SX1
Sep 26
2.2 LD
9 m
2016 SG
Sep 27
2.3 LD
21 m
2016 SW1
Sep 28
1.3 LD
9 m
2016 SL2
Sep 29
2.4 LD
35 m
2016 SZ1
Sep 29
6.1 LD
21 m
2009 UG
Sep 30
7.3 LD
101 m
2016 SR2
Oct 7
3.8 LD
22 m
2100 Ra-Shalom
Oct 9
58.3 LD
1.1 km
2014 UR
Oct 18
12 LD
21 m
2005 SE71
Oct 24
72.2 LD
1.0 km
2003 TL4
Oct 27
10.1 LD
565 m
2003 YT1
Oct 31
13.5 LD
850 m
Notes: LD means "Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.
  Essential web links
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
  The official U.S. government space weather bureau
Atmospheric Optics
  The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
Solar Dynamics Observatory
  Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
STEREO
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
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Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather
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