Archive | February 2010

Solar Stormwatch is go!

Day 1 of solar stormwatch! A warm welcome to everyone, from the seasoned zooites who helped us test the beta version to those of you who have just found us! The NASA STEREO mission was launched in 2006 and we have been viewing the Sun ever since from two (almost) identical spacecraft, one drifting ahead of the Earth (we call this STEREO Ahead or STEREO A) and the other drifting behind the Earth (you guessed it, STEREO Behind or STEREO B). These spacecraft give us a unique view of the Sun and solar wind and we would like you to help us scrutinise the many thousands of images we have taken so that we can learn more about solar storms and anything else that you happen to see.

We have now added all the data from the STEREO mission so far and will continue to add it as it comes back from the spacecraft. So, if it’s raining, snowing or even dark, come on in and see what the Sun is doing! You’ll be helping us to understand our nearest star. How cool is that?


Nearly there…

Thanks to everyone who has helped us with the testing of the Solar Stormwatch site over the last few weeks. With your help we are now almost ready to release the final version, where you will be able to look at all the STEREO data. We have been analysing your estimates of solar storm speeds and positions and for those storms that we have already studied in detail, we know that the interface is working and I’m very excited about this as it means that we can now extend our analysis to many more storms. 

I am excited enough about the storms and certainly wasn’t anticipating a totally unexpected discovery – the occurrence of many more dust tracks in the data than we had previously identified. This is fabulous stuff. Once we have scrutinised the whole data set, this will tell us about the distribution of dust around the Sun in more detail than we would previously have been able to achieve from our images. See the detailed discussion on the solarstormwatch forum for more information.

I continue to be amazed by the scientific possibilities that are unleashed by the dedication of zooites and can’t wait to see what else we can discover together.