Shop Windows to the Universe

Young Voices for the Planet DVD in our online store includes 8 films where students speak out and take action on climate change.
Image of the Sun from SOHO
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of NASA

SOHO Catches Glimpse of the Sun's "Far Side"
News story originally written on June 23, 1999

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) caught a rare view of the far side of the Sun. If solar activity is found by the satellite before that side of the Sun faces Earth, then scientists can forecast solar storms. This may save the satellite industry millions of dollars each year.

When the Sun releases large amounts of energy, the ultraviolet light makes patches of hydrogen gas glow. This glow is invisible to Earth, but not to SOHO. A special instrument called the Solar Wind Anisotropies (SWAN) was used to find these patches. This new technology can give scientists a few days warning before the storm actually hits.

"Strong ultraviolet emissions from active regions on the back of the sun behave like beams from a lighthouse on the landscape," says Jean-Loup Bertaux, of the CNRS Service d'Aéronomie in France, and principal investigator for SWAN. "They move in the sky in accordance with the sun's rotation," which takes about 28 days. "We can monitor the activity on the back side of the sun without looking at it directly. This method could be used in future studies on space weather, which can seriously affect orbiting satellites and other technological systems on Earth."

SOHO also captured the largest shadow ever seen. When Comet Hale-Bopp passed by in 1997, SOHO took a few photographs. Behind the comet, was a shadow over 150 million kilometers long. When the comet came near the Sun, it developed an enormous tail made of hydrogen. This tail and the comet itself were projected onto the sky.

"This phenomenon provides an absolute determination of the amount of hydrogen and water released by the comet - about 300 tonnes per second" , says Bertaux.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes fun classroom activities for you and your students. Issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist are also full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Comet Hale-Bopp

Hale-Bopp continues to offer surprises as astronomers study the comet. Using the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Ultraviolet Explorer, astronomers have found that their are distinctly different...more

1999--A Year in Review...

It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more

STS-95 Launch: "Let the wings of Discovery lift us on to the future."

The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more

Moon Found Orbiting Asteroid

A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more

U.S. is Fed Up with Russia

Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more

More on Recent Coronal Mass Ejection

During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more

Mother Nature's Air Conditioning

J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA