Comet ISON STEREO solar pass

Update: Comet ISON beyond the Sun

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Last Thursday, while many gathered with loved ones for Thanksgiving, a frozen ball of ice and rock was hurtling towards the Sun reaching speeds of 225 miles/second [360 kilometers/second]. A fleet of solar-observing spacecraft had their instruments aligned, and experts were on hand to watch what unfolded. We wondered […]

SOHO images Comet Ison's aproach to the sun Nov 2013

Comet ISON approaches the Sun

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Our patch of universe has a visitor from afar. Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON), or Comet ISON, has astronomers across the world training telescopes and eager eyes on outer space. Don Yeomans, manager of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program Office, watches for objects whose orbits come close to Earth. He says ISON […]

Orbital dynamics and climate

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Cyclical changes in the way the Earth circumnavigates the Sun can influence Earth’s climate. Last week, we looked at Milankovitch’s assessments of orbital dynamics, including: orbital eccentricity, Earth’s tilt or obliquity, and the precession or change in orientation of the Earth’s axis of rotation which determines what direction each […]

orbital variance seasons

Earth’s orbital dynamics

In the 1930s, Serbian mathematician Milutin Milankovitch theorized that slow changes in the way the Earth moves through space about the Sun could have influenced our planet’s climate past. The Earth has experienced a string of ice ages in the past, interrupted by shorter, warmer, interglacial periods. How –and how much– have the Earths’ orbital […]

BARREL balloon launch Antarctica

BARREL mission balloons fly high

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists Balloons are far from the first things that come to mind when you hear scientific discovery, but measurements taken by a fleet of eight-story-tall balloons released earlier this year are helping scientists make new discoveries about our planet. The 20 balloons lofted into the pristine cold air above Antarctica this […]

Big booms over the northland

Ned Rozell for UAFGI – Near a small village in Russia, Marina Ivanova stepped into cross-country skis and kicked toward a hole in the snow. The meteorite specialist with the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and Vernadsky Institute in Moscow was hunting for fragments of the great Chelyabinsk Meteorite that exploded three days earlier. This […]

Aurora Borealis purple red blue green Arctic

After a lifetime of study, aurora still a mystery

Ned Rozell for UAFGI – Sometimes, after idling in the sky for hours as a greenish glow, the aurora catches fire, erupting toward the magnetic north pole in magnificent chaos that can last for three hours. “Substorms,” as space physicists call them, can happen two or three times each night. The man who came up […]

My Teacher the Android Space Girl

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists I met her in space. Ok, that’s not true. I met Cindi at the AGU Exploration Station, San Francisco, an annual free science event for families and teachers where kids can get hands-on science. I’d never met a space android girl before… what did she do up in space? What […]

Space Weather Predictions

by Laura Nielsen for FrontierScientists. We know that space weather can play havok with technology. Space weather has real effects on human society, technology, and our economy. How do we ready ourselves to deal with it? This rubber chicken can help. The chicken is Camilla Corona SDO, the mascot for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). […]

Space weather and your technology

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – We’re all attached to our cellphones. Did you know that the Sun has the potential to disrupt your service? The Sun, the Earth, and our solar system are all part of an electromagnetic system. Our star emits charged particles, radiation, plasma, and dynamic magnetic fields. As these variable particles […]