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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 525.6 km/sec
density: 6.3 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2350 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A4
2153 UT Apr05
24-hr: A4
2153 UT Apr05
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 05 Apr 19
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 05 Apr 2019

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 0 days
2019 total: 60 days (63%)
2018 total: 221 days (61%)
2017 total: 104 days (28%)
2016 total: 32 days (9%)
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%)
2008 total: 268 days (73%)
2007 total: 152 days (42%)
2006 total: 70 days (19%)

Updated 05 Apr 2019


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.07
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 05 Apr 2019

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 70 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 05 Apr 2019

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 3
quiet
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 3.5 nT
Bz: 0.8 nT north
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2347 UT
Coronal Holes: 05 Apr 19


Solar wind flowing from these coronal holes could reach Earth on April 6-7.
Credit: SDO/AIA

Noctilucent Clouds The southern season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) is ending. NASA's AIM spacecraft is detecting a sharp decline in electric blue clouds at the edge of space over Antarctica.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 03-02-2019 16:55:03
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2019 Apr 05 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: 2019 Apr 05 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
30 %
MINOR
05 %
10 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
15 %
MINOR
25 %
30 %
SEVERE
25 %
30 %
 
Friday, Apr. 5, 2019
What's up in space
       
 

Solar minimum is here - but even now strangely beautiful auroras are dancing around the poles. Deep inside the Arctic Circle, the expert guides of Aurora Holidays in Utsjoki, Finland, can help you chase them. Book now!

 

THE SOLAR WIND IS HERE: Earth is inside a stream of solar wind flowing faster than 500 km/s (1.1 million mph). This is causing geomagnetic unrest and intermittent auroras around the Arctic Circle. Solar wind speeds should remain elevated for the next 48 to 72 hours as our planet surfs two additional streams of solar wind in the offing. Aurora alerts: SMS text, email.

SPACE WEATHER PROBES SHATTER GPS RECORD: NASA's MMS probes, which use GPS signals to orbit Earth in tight formation, have just shattered the record for long-distance GPS navigation. The four probes recently located themselves 116,300 miles above Earth's surface, surprising experts who once thought that GPS could function no higher than about 22,000 miles.

"When we began the mission, we had no idea high-altitude GPS would be such a robust capability," says Trevor Williams, the MMS flight dynamics lead at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.


Above: an artist's concept of the 4 MMS spacecraft

MMS, short for "Magnetospheric Multiscale," is a constellation of 4 spacecraft launched in 2015. They are on a mission to study magnetic explosions in our planet's magnetosphere. High above Earth where the magnetic field is buffeted by solar wind, magnetic lines of force criss-cross, reconnect and—Bang! Magnetic energy is unleashed, with charged-particles flying off near the speed of light. The process is called "magnetic reconnection, and it serves as a power source for geomagnetic storms.

To study the inner physics of reconnection, the MMS probes must fly in precise formation, as close as 10 km apart, so that they can sample particles and fields inside the tight reconnection zone. With the aid of GPS, the fleet maintain formation with an accuracy of only 100 meters, which is crucial to their measurements.

GPS satellites are not designed to assist spacecraft. They focus their radio energy on Earth where we use the signals for terrestrial navigation. So how do the MMS probes do it? The answer is "side lobes." This diagram shows a simplified but typical GPS antenna pattern:


All GPS antennas allow a little bit of radio energy to leak out in unwanted directions through side lobes. Receivers on the MMS probes tap into the leaked signal and use it to locate themselves. The first time MMS attempted navigation at the extremes of its orbit, the satellites had as many as 12 GPS fixes, each requiring signals from four GPS satellites. Not bad for a "leak."

This type of navigation could reach all the way to the Moon. NASA analysts have run simulations suggesting that all six international GPS-like constellations (collectively known as GNSS) when working together could guide spacecraft in lunar orbit 238,000 miles from Earth. NASA is even considering adding GPS navigation to its proposed Gateway outpost, a space station for the Moon.

A sharable version of this story is available here.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

SOLAR ECLIPSE ON MARS: When NASA's Curiosity rover landed on Mars in 2012, it brought along eclipse glasses. The solar filters on its Mast Camera (Mastcam) allow it to stare directly at the sun. On March 26th, the rover witnessed a distinctly Martian solar eclipse:

These images show the Martian moon Phobos crossing the sun over a period of about 35 seconds. Measuring only 25 km across, Phobos has an irregular silhouette that fails to blot out the entire solar disk. Nevertheless, Curiosity was able to see the moon's shadow sweeping across the landscape.

Fun fact: Phobos is doomed. Phobos orbits so close to Mars - about 5800 kilometers above the surface compared to 400,000 kilometers for our Moon - that gravitational tidal forces are dragging it down. The ultimate result will be for Phobos to break up in orbit and then crash down onto the Martian surface in about 50 million years.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

A GIFT FROM THE EDGE OF SPACE: It's sterling silver and it comes from space. On March 5th, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus flew a cosmic ray balloon to the stratosphere, more than 94,000 feet above Earth's surface. This "Loving Hands" pendant went along for the ride:

You can have one for $129.95. They make great Mother's Day gifts. The students are selling these pendants as a fund-raiser for their cosmic ray monitoring program. All proceeds support atmospheric radiation measurements and hands-on STEM education.

Each pendant comes with a greeting card showing the jewelry in flight and telling the story of its journey to the stratosphere and back again.

Far Out Gifts: Earth to Sky Store
All sales support hands-on STEM education


Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery


  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 Apr. 5, 2019, the network reported 25 fireballs.
(25 sporadics)

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 April 5, 2019 there were 1967 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2019 FV1
2019-Mar-31
0.9 LD
18.3
6
2019 FL1
2019-Mar-31
2.8 LD
12.5
15
2019 GJ1
2019-Mar-31
5.4 LD
7.5
14
2019 FB1
2019-Mar-31
1.5 LD
8.2
10
2019 FZ1
2019-Mar-31
11.3 LD
24.3
29
2019 FF1
2019-Mar-31
18.7 LD
8.4
28
2019 FQ1
2019-Mar-31
9.2 LD
9.3
12
2019 GE
2019-Mar-31
2.9 LD
10.7
18
2019 FR2
2019-Apr-01
2.1 LD
8.3
11
2019 FN1
2019-Apr-02
8.5 LD
9
14
2019 FT2
2019-Apr-02
2.4 LD
27.1
19
2019 GK1
2019-Apr-04
19.8 LD
5.6
18
2019 GM1
2019-Apr-04
7.9 LD
4.4
12
2019 FW1
2019-Apr-04
16.8 LD
8.3
18
2016 GE1
2019-Apr-05
2.9 LD
10.1
17
2019 FV
2019-Apr-06
15 LD
7.7
59
2019 FY2
2019-Apr-07
19.5 LD
3.9
12
2019 GT
2019-Apr-07
3.5 LD
15.6
18
2019 GS
2019-Apr-07
1.1 LD
12.7
17
2019 FS2
2019-Apr-08
3.2 LD
6.2
12
2019 GR
2019-Apr-08
11.4 LD
5.7
29
2019 GC
2019-Apr-08
6.2 LD
6.6
17
2019 FU
2019-Apr-09
5.3 LD
14.2
85
2014 UR
2019-Apr-09
13 LD
4.6
17
2016 GW221
2019-Apr-09
10.1 LD
5.3
39
2014 HD177
2019-Apr-10
6.1 LD
14
102
2019 GQ
2019-Apr-10
5.2 LD
8.4
17
2019 GE1
2019-Apr-11
3.9 LD
6.5
13
2019 FB3
2019-Apr-12
11.9 LD
14.2
42
2019 GQ1
2019-Apr-12
13.4 LD
12.7
38
2019 GN
2019-Apr-13
1.7 LD
11.8
12
2019 FO1
2019-Apr-13
14.4 LD
9.7
28
2019 FH1
2019-Apr-13
18 LD
3.8
32
2012 XO134
2019-Apr-18
14.8 LD
11
56
2019 FN2
2019-Apr-18
4.1 LD
7.8
69
522684
2019-Apr-19
19 LD
11.5
214
2019 GM
2019-Apr-21
19.4 LD
10.3
38
2019 FV2
2019-Apr-22
15.6 LD
2.3
32
2019 GF1
2019-Apr-27
4.7 LD
1.9
11
2018 KK1
2019-May-05
13.9 LD
13.9
71
2017 RC
2019-May-09
14.5 LD
10.6
9
2008 HS3
2019-May-09
14.6 LD
5.3
162
2018 VX8
2019-May-12
6.2 LD
15.5
118
2012 KT12
2019-May-18
3.3 LD
3.9
20
2015 KQ18
2019-May-25
10.7 LD
13.1
30
66391
2019-May-25
13.5 LD
21.5
1780
2003 LH
2019-May-28
15.6 LD
7.4
32
2011 HP
2019-May-30
12.2 LD
8.4
135
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.
  Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere

SOMETHING NEW! We have developed a new predictive model of aviation radiation. It's called E-RAD--short for Empirical RADiation model. We are constantly flying radiation sensors onboard airplanes over the US and and around the world, so far collecting more than 22,000 gps-tagged radiation measurements. Using this unique dataset, we can predict the dosage on any flight over the USA with an error no worse than 15%.

E-RAD lets us do something new: Every day we monitor approximately 1400 flights criss-crossing the 10 busiest routes in the continental USA. Typically, this includes more than 80,000 passengers per day. E-RAD calculates the radiation exposure for every single flight.

The Hot Flights Table is a daily summary of these calculations. It shows the 5 charter flights with the highest dose rates; the 5 commercial flights with the highest dose rates; 5 commercial flights with near-average dose rates; and the 5 commercial flights with the lowest dose rates. Passengers typically experience dose rates that are 20 to 70 times higher than natural radiation at sea level.

To measure radiation on airplanes, we use the same sensors we fly to the stratosphere onboard Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray balloons: neutron bubble chambers and X-ray/gamma-ray Geiger tubes sensitive to energies between 10 keV and 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

Column definitions: (1) The flight number; (2) The maximum dose rate during the flight, expressed in units of natural radiation at sea level; (3) The maximum altitude of the plane in feet above sea level; (4) Departure city; (5) Arrival city; (6) Duration of the flight.

SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: 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 18% since 2015:

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.

En route to the stratosphere, our sensors also pass through aviation altitudes:

In this plot, 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.

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.

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.

  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
NOAA 27-Day Space Weather Forecasts
  fun to read, but should be taken with a grain of salt! Forecasts looking ahead more than a few days are often wrong.
Aurora 30 min forecast
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather
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