A bright idea in solar physics
An image from November 3 shows an X1.9-class solar flare.
August 28th, 2012
02:27 PM ET

A bright idea in solar physics

Since their inception in 1964, global positioning systems have changed the landscape of travel and navigation around the world. However, the out-of-orbit satellites that allow these innovative systems to work are in jeopardy, largely because of weather – from the sun.

Large solar flares appear to be the problem. They act as explosives that erupt from the sun’s surface and can cause irreversible damage if their flareups aren't known about ahead of time.

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology may have a solution. They are examining the predecessors of solar flares, called plasma loops, by re-creating them in a lab.

Solar flares cannot be prevented, but if they can be predicted, it would help scientists figure out how to protect satellites from plasma loops, said Paul Bellan of California Institute of Technology.

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Filed under: News • the Sun
August 28th, 2012
11:02 AM ET

Human voice makes giant leap in space thanks to Curiosity

The voice of NASA's chief has boldly gone where no voice has gone before - to another planet and back.

Words uttered by Charles Bolden, the administrator of NASA, were radioed to the Curiosity Rover on the surface of Mars, which in turn sent them back to NASA's Deep Space Network on Earth, NASA said in a statement Monday.

The successful transmission means Bolden's space-faring comments are the first instance of a recorded human voice traveling from Earth to another planet and back again, according to NASA.

In the recording, Bolden congratulated NASA employees and other agencies involved in the Curiosity mission, noting that "landing a rover on Mars is not easy."

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Filed under: In Space • Mars • News

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