SpaceX making some noise
Dragon's test crew, from top left: NASA Crew Survival Engineering Team Lead Dustin Gohmert, NASA astronauts Tony Antonelli and Lee Archambault, SpaceX Mission Operations Engineer Laura Crabtree, SpaceX Thermal Engineer Brenda Hernandez, NASA astronauts Rex Walheim Tim Kopra.
March 20th, 2012
12:02 PM ET

SpaceX making some noise

If you follow social media or space news, you might have noticed that SpaceX has been showing off its skills lately - first on Mashable.com, which has some great pictures of the Dragon capsule outfitted for a crew of seven, and second on 60 Minutes on Sunday, March 18. SpaceX founder Elon Musk talked to the program about starting and maintaining SpaceX, with some great visuals of the SpaceX facilities and the Dragon itself.

This is coming ahead of next month's scheduled test flight of another Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket. That launch is scheduled to fly to the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) contract. If all goes well, the Dragon will berth with the station.

Check out Mashable's post: SpaceX Prepares Dragon Spacecraft for Human Flight

Watch Elon Musk on 60 Minutes: SpaceX: Entrepreneur's race to space

Follow @SpaceX on Twitter

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Filed under: On Earth • Voices
Sunspots and Solar Flares
March 20th, 2012
10:38 AM ET

Sunspots and Solar Flares

"NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured this image of an M7.9 class flare on March 13, 2012 at 1:29 p.m. EDT. It is shown here in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength particularly good for seeing solar flares and a wavelength that is typically colorized in teal. The flare peaked at 1:41 p.m. EDT. It was from the same active region, No. 1429, that produced flares and coronal mass ejections the entire week. The region has been moving across the face of the sun since March 2, and will soon rotate out of Earth view.

A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. Flares are our solar system’s largest explosive events. They are seen as bright areas on the sun and last from mere minutes to several hours.

Scientists classify solar flares according to their x-ray brightness. There are 3 categories: X-, M- and C-class. X-class flares are the largest of these events. M-class flares are medium-sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth's polar regions. Compared to X- and M-class, C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences on Earth."

Source: NASA

Filed under: Light up the screen

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