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Geomagnetic Storm In Progress

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the sky-is-falling dept.

Space 110

shogun writes "The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports a strong geomagnetic storm is in progress. The shuttle, ISS and GPS systems may be affected." They think this storm was caused by a weak solar flare on April 3rd. As you may expect, this has caused some unusually impressive northern lights since it started. What you may not expect is a photograph from Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi aboard the International Space Station showing the aurora from orbit. He apparently tweets a lot of pictures from space. He and his crewmates have taken over 100,000 pictures since coming aboard the ISS.

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Geomagnetic data on the storm (4, Informative)

dtmos (447842) | about 4 years ago | (#31738828)

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center [noaa.gov] has a bunch of data on the storm, including the estimated 3-hour Planetary Kp-index [noaa.gov], and a bunch of other data [noaa.gov] and alerts [noaa.gov].

A readable description of the relationship between geomagnetic events and aurora can be found here [noaa.gov].

Huh (2, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 4 years ago | (#31738870)

I wondered what set off my allergies this morning.

Re:Huh (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 4 years ago | (#31739314)

You mean, the auroras revoltingly looking like Windows Vista green-and-blue theme, only million times bigger?

Yet another stereotype confifrmed. (4, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 4 years ago | (#31738896)

You know, Soichi Noguchi, you are doing very little to dispel the classic stereotype of Japanese tourists always with a camera around their neck, taking pictures of everything!

Re:Yet another stereotype confifrmed. (4, Informative)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 4 years ago | (#31739064)

Heh. Prepare to be downmodded by the overly sensitive. He's a good egg. I saw him on NASA TV doing one of their endless lame daily interviews with schoolkids, and he answered the inevitable "What do you miss most?" question with "A hot shower and cold beer". Ya gotta love an honest answer instead of the usual astronaut-speak.

Re:Yet another stereotype confifrmed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31739782)

Honest? Hell! What he meant was he missed a nice hot cup of java and a good blow job.

Re:Yet another stereotype confifrmed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31740874)

You obviously have very boring showers :D

And, as much as I love a good coffee, beer > coffee

Re:Yet another stereotype confifrmed. (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 4 years ago | (#31741450)

Hot showers and blow jobs are not mutually exclusive. Neither are hot cups of coffee and cold beers.

Re:Yet another stereotype confirmed. (0)

iggymanz (596061) | about 4 years ago | (#31739406)

even worse, I distinctly heard his camera go "crick"

Re:Yet another stereotype confirmed. (2, Funny)

sbeckstead (555647) | about 4 years ago | (#31741952)

Now this should get down modded, Maybe it's a German camera did you ever think about that you insensitive clod!

Re:Yet another stereotype confifrmed. (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 4 years ago | (#31739682)

Look on the bright side: at least there weren't other pictures showing him getting in ridiculous and uncomfortable positions in order to take the pictures.

Re:Yet another stereotype confifrmed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31740072)

You sir win one Internet.

Re:Yet another stereotype confifrmed. (1)

sbeckstead (555647) | about 4 years ago | (#31741918)

Oh hell no, a Japanese guy thousands of miles from home taking thousands of pictures is exactly what I was going to point out. It's not going to be down modded at all.

twitpic? (2, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | about 4 years ago | (#31738938)

What the heck is "twitpic"?!? It sounds like a web app that twits use to post their pictures... what's that you say? It IS a web app that twits use to post their pictures? Uh... I guess it is aptly name then.

Re:twitpic? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31739328)

Twitpic is a picture usually posted on a Twitter account. http://twitter.com/astrosoichi is the address for Mr. Noguchi's public Twitter account. His pictures are quite priceless.

Beautiful. (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 4 years ago | (#31738940)

But I'd love to see it without the vehicle obscuring it. It would help to get a better visual grasp of the structure of the aurora itself.

From this you can see that the green glow is low and the red glow above it and diffuse. Without the obscuration you could get a better idea of the pattern of the intersection of the magnetically guided particle stream(s) with the atmosphere.

Re:Beautiful. (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 4 years ago | (#31741288)

From this you can see that the green glow is low and the red glow above it and diffuse.

You can't even see that. The pic is a long exposure (look at the stars for reference). Makes me wonder what a short exposure time would look like.

Re:Beautiful. (2, Informative)

KingArthur10 (679328) | about 4 years ago | (#31741932)

The EXIF on that photo says 13 seconds at ISO 200 and f/2.8 with a Nikon D2Xs. Even though that camera is a 2006 model, I'd think it would have been able to take acceptable ISO800 photos which could chop that exposure down to about 3 seconds or so. I'm going to assume that the camera was modified to remove the Near IR/IR filter, but if not, that would definitely help the reds come through better.

With less motion, the colors would have been able to compound better, and I'm betting that an ISO800 shot would have had better definition as the photon strikes would have a higher likelihood of compounding on top of each other rather than spreading across multiple pixels. Then again, I've never shot from space at an object moving 28,000kph relative to me. I'm guessing they don't have a TON of time to dink around with exposure settings, although 1000 tweets in, they must have a little spare time.

Re:Beautiful. (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 4 years ago | (#31743542)

He's taking pictures for fun and sharing them. Not for science, but for posterity or public interest, or "cool, look what I got to see". He's posting them for free. From the FUCKING SPACE STATION. 200 miles straight up in the air, traveling at 27 THOUSAND miles per hour, and is able to take pictures and post them on the internet. "Could you please move your hat sir, you're obscuring my view," is a reasonable request. "Could you please move your 300 tonne vehicle out of the way so I can see a few blurry colored pixels that a small part of your SPACE STATION is blocking, without which we wouldn't be able to see the picture at all," this is ridiculous.

Thank you Soichi, thank you from 6.5 billion people on planet earth, except for "Ungrounded Lightning". For some reason he thinks he's an art critic, or the Space Lord Mothermother, or that you can lift an X-wing out of a swamp with the wave of your hand.

Hopefully this puts it in perspective (choose one)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhWZ4gNqPP0 [youtube.com]
http://www.blogjam.com/neil_armstrong/ [blogjam.com]

Re:Beautiful. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31746126)

Fuck you, man. Fuck you.

I bet it'd look better on an iPad (2, Funny)

Orga (1720130) | about 4 years ago | (#31739012)

It's too bad they couldn't have sent one up to them on the ISS, they could have used it to take pict... they could have twittered from... they could have at least used it to... hmmm

now to find a stargate so I can go back in time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31739134)

now to find a stargate so I can go back in time.

Leave your Toyotas at home today. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31739320)

Leave your Toyotas at home today. This is definitely going to cause interference with the gas pedal and cause you to rear end someone.

Re:Leave your Toyotas at home today. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31742496)

The last time I rear ended someone in a toyota, your mother was walking funny for a week.

How long do these last? (2, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 4 years ago | (#31739344)

We're having cloudy weather (big surprise in the Seattle area), but it's sure be nice if this would last another 8-10 hours so we had a chance at seeing the aurora this evening. Unfortunately it's rare down here, and even rarer for it to coincide with a clear night...

Best. Space pic. Ever. (4, Informative)

The Bad Astronomer (563217) | about 4 years ago | (#31739372)

FWIW, I posted on my blog [discovermagazine.com] about this amazing pic from Soichi, explaining it a bit and giving my thoughts.

Re:Best. Space pic. Ever. (1)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 4 years ago | (#31739702)

FWIW, I posted on my blog [discovermagazine.com] about this amazing pic from Soichi, explaining it a bit and giving my thoughts.

Shameless blog promotion forgiven because I 3 Phil.

And his post is, unsurprisingly, worth reading. Mod BA up!

cn89m1ki08 39108u3 k -=o (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31739624)

ddjmio17`=mio34jlsln9082bn xcm`lkremk1m -iw1] op89 9jkuh;LK[MPN cm0[wn8 23 ucking ISP!!

I dont buy it (0)

unity100 (970058) | about 4 years ago | (#31739636)

sol has been in its most silent decade ever. and yesterday, suddenly it created a major flare to the extent of creating a strong magnetic storm on earth ?

i dont buy this.

Re:I dont buy it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31740748)

It was reported some time ago that the sun is entering its next active phase again, or is beginning to have its periodical mood swings and explosions, if one likes the expression.

Re:I dont buy it (1)

Aikar (1158019) | about 4 years ago | (#31740980)

so they are just going to randomly lie about this? for what gain? My phone signal surely has been affected by this. I usually have a solid full bars at work and i'm roaming atm.

Re:I dont buy it (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 4 years ago | (#31742270)

What isn't there to buy about a solar flare?

Re:I dont buy it (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 4 years ago | (#31742678)

5-6 years into its most silent decade, sun suddenly bursts.

isnt that too abnormal to believe ?

Re:I dont buy it (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 4 years ago | (#31742830)

No, not really. Its a giant ball of fusion, photons, plasma and gases that is 99.8% of the solar system's mass that is doing all kinds of crap under the surface that we can't see. Hell we don't really know what is going on down there under the surface.

Why can't this giant ball of fusion have a medium sized solar flare this week without it being beyond the realm of possibility?

What else would this be other than a solar flare?

Re:I dont buy it (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 4 years ago | (#31743064)

because it is TOO big to be that irregular. imagine, a huge ball of fusion, will stay silent for close to a decade, then just pop a single strong flare once, suddenly, 'hailing' a new era of activity.

this is sun, a ball of fusion as you noted. not earth with its tectonic plates and a handful of existing outlets for magma trying to find its way out.

Re:I dont buy it (2, Insightful)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 4 years ago | (#31743142)

The Sun isn't "silent", it pulses and puts out massive amounts of energy in irregular fashion all the time. Now for a few years of its 8-10 billion year life it just hasn't been putting out enough to mess things up 93,000,000 miles away.

This week its sending out some energy, not a giant amount by its scale, just enough to screw with things and light up the sky.

The ball of fusion does have a lot of movement on its surface and convection currents under the surface, its not a featureless racquet ball except for the occasional sunspot or CME.

Re:I dont buy it (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 4 years ago | (#31742892)

And Space Weather shows the sunspot and SOHO shows the CMEs, not like its something the government is saying and there is no evidence of it happening.

http://spaceweather.com/ [spaceweather.com]
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/data/realtime-images.html [nasa.gov]
http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/pickoftheweek/ [nasa.gov]

Re:I dont buy it (0, Troll)

unity100 (970058) | about 4 years ago | (#31743048)

has the activity been slowly picking up to this point ? or it was just announced last week that sun suddenly started an active 'decade' (as if the sun has an obligation to have a frequency of decades for its activities).

about soho - i dont trust any government controlled agency or their implements.

Re:I dont buy it (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 4 years ago | (#31743104)

Well, can't really come up with any sources of solar weather that don't have something to do with a government, government agency or enterprise that has government funding so...

Well, this little bit of solar weather isn't because its suddenly an active decade, its just a couple solar farts of CME and energy hitting the Earth.

The sunspots and activity is coming back up and they aren't sure why or how, which isn't unusual because no one is really sure how it all works. I can link and you can ignore it because it is from SOHO which is an implement of NASA and ESA, so Feds and EU together, oh noes.

http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/hotshots/2010_03_15/ [nasa.gov]

Re:I dont buy it (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 4 years ago | (#31746270)

i have deep mistrust of nasa due to their extreme closedness, cover-up and hushhush culture and their employer, us. govt.

had it been an european space agency, i would at least be sure of som independency.

Re:I dont buy it (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | about 4 years ago | (#31748822)

SOHO is a joint operation of NASA and ESA. Unfortunately all the solar observation satellites up there are NASA or shared with NASA right now.

So you don't trust NASA or the University of Alaska Fairbanks for solar weather, you don't trust the weather reports because NOAA gathers weather data and the US government put up the weather satellites?

Why are you being deliberatly Obtuse? (1)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | about 4 years ago | (#31743680)

That seems like something you should have looked up before making baseless assumptions.

But then again, they wouldn't be baseless assumptions if you researched things before you asked them. Seriously, this isnt a classroom from the 1950's, you are already on the internet if you are posting here, how hard is it to look that up?

While you are looking things up, you can build your own ground based magnetometer in your own house and see what happens during a geomagnetic storm, based on the same principles of science that are being used to measure the magnetic fields in space.

Every question you just asked is irrelevant. Funny how science works like that.

Re:Why are you being deliberatly Obtuse? (1)

unity100 (970058) | about 4 years ago | (#31746264)

you should wake up to the fact that every magnetic effect on a given planet does not have to come from the sun.

Re:Why are you being deliberatly Obtuse? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31748576)

you should wake up to the fact that every magnetic effect on a given planet does not have to come from the sun.

And you should probably come up with some sort of reason for doubting this is an actual solar event beyond a blanket distrust of any branch of the US Government.

Aurora Watch (4, Interesting)

cflange (1208152) | about 4 years ago | (#31739886)

To watch the geomagnetic activity live, check AuroraWatch: http://corona-gw.phys.ualberta.ca/AuroraWatch/ [ualberta.ca]
You can also subscribe to receive e-mail alerts about probable Northern Lights.
From the website: "AuroraWatch forecasts are made by examining the behaviour of the Earth's magnetic field strength, which is measured by ground-based magnetometers."

In other news... (4, Funny)

canada_dry (830702) | about 4 years ago | (#31739910)

... Toyota has issued a statement asking Prius owners to wrap their cars in tin foil before driving.

Holiday... (2, Funny)

tonywestonuk (261622) | about 4 years ago | (#31740156)

So, here I am in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but a 3g Dongle and suddenly this Geomagnetic storms£(*&^SGU &@*(&((clkxjnx..........NO CARRIER

Earthquake relationship ? (0, Offtopic)

Latinhypercube (935707) | about 4 years ago | (#31740290)

Has anyone ever tried to cross match Geomagnetic storms with Earthquake activity on the Earth ? Seems like a plausible connection ?

Re:Earthquake relationship ? (1)

lordmatrix (1439871) | about 4 years ago | (#31740672)

To cause an earthquake, it would have to be a concentrated beam of EM energy, something that only man made technology can do. There are reports that HAARP was on at full power from a few days ago to a few hours past the Haitian earthquake. HAARP can cause earthquakes. Russians and Chinese have the same super weapons.

Re:Earthquake relationship ? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about 4 years ago | (#31741856)

Yes. I just watched the movie 2012. Very scientific tribute to plate techtonics and neutron interactions causing some dude to be ground up in some gears used to close a door that were completely jammed by a power cable.

Re:Earthquake relationship ? (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 4 years ago | (#31743348)

Has anyone ever tried to cross match Geomagnetic storms with Earthquake activity on the Earth ? Seems like a plausible connection ?

Nobody wants to try it because as soon as the connection is made, we'll lose the GoldenGate Bridge!

Re:Earthquake relationship ? (1)

pastababa (1747148) | about 4 years ago | (#31746274)

How about the White house, the Washington monument, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Mt Rushmore... Apparently you are not watching enough disaster movies.

Stargate SG-1 (2, Interesting)

Anubis_Ascended (937960) | about 4 years ago | (#31740506)

This reminds me of the Stargate SG-1 episode "Window of Opportunity" where Earth and several other planets get stuck in a "Groundhog Day" type scenario, and only Jack O'Neill and Teal'c realize what's happening.

Re:Stargate SG-1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31740580)

Greatest episode ever.

Re:Stargate SG-1 (1)

shogun (657) | about 4 years ago | (#31740732)

The original submission had tags referring to that episode but the editors have apparently removed it.

Also why am I not surprised someone with 'Anubis' in their username is making the above post?

Aurora (1)

pastababa (1747148) | about 4 years ago | (#31740556)

Aurora is so beautiful yet its appearance means something devastating could potentially happen to our TV signal, our electricity gird, our internet, well... our entire life !

Oh dear (3, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | about 4 years ago | (#31741082)

Contrary to what you seem to believe, TV/Internet and electricity are NOT all there is to life. Yes really.

Sure some slashdotters will die as they are exposed to the harsh rays of the sun when they wander outside for the first time but life will continue on. Some people with no healthy fear of hights will repair the cables and voila, everything be back to normal.

We had power failures before. They are no big deal. Go outside, empty the fridge and have a party. You know. With girls... oh okay, you can remain in the kitchen and look through the window at them, while you build a computer out of egg-cartons.

Mind you, I got a phone-jammer, that I sometimes use just for fun. It is amusing to see just how people react when their cell phone dies. Some really do react as if you cut the umbilical cord.

In a way, it would be an intresting social experiment. Cut the power/internet over the entire globe and see how each culture/area reacts to it. Why do some disaster areas result in looting and rioting and others remain calm? You can't really compare disasters but a global strike like this would be easier to compare. Would there be riots all over? None at all? Only in certain economic areas? Or (oh boy I am going to get it for this one) does it depend on race? Culture? Local leadership?

Re:Oh dear (2, Funny)

Kagura (843695) | about 4 years ago | (#31743964)

I got a phone jammer too, so I can block unnecessary EM radiation from the nearby cell towers.

Re:Oh dear (1)

Xoltri (1052470) | about 4 years ago | (#31748658)

If you read books you might be interested to read One Second After by William R Forstchen. It's about an EMP blast that kills all electronic devices and the aftermath.

Yes but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31740888)

will it have any effect on the transporter beam?

The real question is... (1)

wandazulu (265281) | about 4 years ago | (#31741208)

...how will this affect my GPS for geocaching?

Beautiful pictures, BTW...I have never seen them in person, they've got to be just that cooler from space. Space! SPACE!!!!

Sigh, back to work in my little cube.

Re:The real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31741760)

Right on brother... cache on!!!

Raising the bar for japanese tourists everywhere (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31741530)

He and his crewmates have taken over 100,000 pictures since coming aboard the ISS.

Having been on the ISS for only 6 months, that averages over 555 pictures a DAY.

Even for japanese tourists, that seems a tad excessive.

(In Japanese) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31741780)

The Japanese word for Cheese is "Chiizu" or as written and is the expected word to use when they want you to smile before taking a photograph (as opposed to the Canadian equivalent which is "C'est Cheese"). When travelling, the smart Japanese will want to take a camera and film in order to record their journey for posterity and also to contribute some of the joy of their journey to their friends and family (so the theory goes). I knew a girl (ok mid-30's isn't exactly a girl anymore) who went on a 4 day weekend trip and somehow managed to take 600 photos of her trip (she was travelling alone). So it is no surprise to me that a group of Japanese astronauts would take imaging equipment with them up to the ISS, and they would use that imaging equipment to great affect so that upon returning to earth, they could tell colleagues, friends and family all about their trip, and instead of using even more words than I have used in this post, they could substitute every 1000 of them with a picture. I could imagine it goes like this: "What have you brought back?" "I have a tiny piece of meteorite that struck the air lock when it was open, and I retrieved it when the air lock was closed. It weights 1/2 ounce." "Amazing, do you have anything else?" "I have 30 pounds of SD memory cards, over 3.2 million pictures." "Only 3.2 million?"

NOAA warnings make no sense at all... (2, Informative)

mad flyer (589291) | about 4 years ago | (#31742262)

I'm on their various maillists since I discovered that sensible electronic tend to crash better when there is solar activity. (My old Palm III was resetting it's memory everytime their was anykind of solar burps). But their annoucement are cryptical at best. And last evening their mail said that:

Space Weather Message Code: WARK06
Serial Number: 162
Issue Time: 2010 Apr 05 1831 UTC

CANCEL WARNING: Geomagnetic K-Index of 6 expected
Cancel Serial Number: 161
Original Issue Time: 2010 Apr 05 1427 UTC

Comment: Earlier indications of anticipated geomagnetic storm activity are no
longer present.

NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at

Which sounds like the opposite of the Slashdot summary...

Re:NOAA warnings make no sense at all... (1)

cybereal (621599) | about 4 years ago | (#31744232)

Well that's because they realized it was actually 300,000 iPads searching desperately for the nearest WiFi hotspot all at once :)

Discovery KU antenna (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31742546)

Did this affect the Discovery KU transmission system?

Thought the aurora was strange last night (1)

mirix (1649853) | about 4 years ago | (#31742708)

I was outside last night at 3AM, and... instead of being sort of greenish and dancing slowly, they were, very dim, pale white, and were almost like... strobes, pulsing, instead of a slow dance. Neat stuff :-)

Live in Alaska ... missed them again (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 4 years ago | (#31744090)

I have been here 9 months and still have not seen any lights. I am unlucky or need to move farther away from city.

Actually... (1)

cybereal (621599) | about 4 years ago | (#31744216)

It was the collission of electromagnetic energy from 300,000 iPads being turned on next to 700,000 people pretending they don't want one.

2012 of something bigger ...hmmmm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#31744540)

tis not about 2010 but about 2012 and the changes coming. yes no end to the world just different trends coming.....the is a newsletter I love and subscribe to in OZ, that guy called the stockmarket crash and has been spot on with all of this. He is worth a look http://www.forecastfortomorrow.com Time to wake up i say!!!

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