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What is happening upstairs

24 August 2014

Not a great deal if you go to www.spaceweather.com (August 24th). It describes an explosion in the magnetic canopy of an emerging sun spot, AR2 151, which hurled a dense and twisted plume of plasma into space. SOHO recorded the bright coronal mass ejection emerging from the blast site (see the video) – but Earth is not in the line of fire. However, a pulse of UV radiation did partly ionise the upper atmosphere (known as a Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance event). The sun spot will turn towards an Earth facing direction in the week ahead.

See also the video and soundtrack of the launch of a balloon designed to find out how the stratosphere responds to solar storms. It will last a year and the balloon carries cameras, GPS altimeters, a cryogenic thermometer and a source radiation detector. The balloon will be situated 100,000 feet above our heads.

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