All Sky Fireball Network Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth’s atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on Spaceweather.com.
On Oct 15, 2023, the network reported 8 fireballs.(5 sporadics, 1 Orionid, 1 Southern Taurid, 1 epsilon Geminid)
In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point-Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]
Near Earth Asteroids Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time. Notes: LD means “Lunar Distance.” 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere
SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: Almost once a week, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly space weather balloons to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with sensors that detect secondary cosmic rays, a form of radiation from space that can penetrate all the way down to Earth’s surface. Our monitoring program has been underway without interruption for 7 years, resulting in a unique dataset of in situ atmospheric measurements.
Latest results (July 2022): Atmospheric radiation is decreasing in 2022. Our latest measurements in July 2022 registered a 6-year low:
What’s going on? Ironically, the radiation drop is caused by increasing solar activity. Solar Cycle 25 has roared to life faster than forecasters expected. The sun’s strengthening and increasingly tangled magnetic field repels cosmic rays from deep space. In addition, solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays, causing sharp reductions called “Forbush Decreases.” The two effects blend together to bring daily radiation levels down.
.Who cares? Cosmic rays are a surprisingly “down to Earth” form of space weather. They can alter the chemistry of the atmosphere, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. According to a study from the Harvard T.H. Chan school of public health, crews of aircraft have higher rates of cancer than the general population. The researchers listed cosmic rays, irregular sleep habits, and chemical contaminants as leading risk factors. A number of controversial studies (#1, #2, #3, #4) go even further, linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.
Technical notes: The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.
Data points in the graph labeled “Stratospheric Radiation” correspond to the peak of the Regener-Pfotzer maximum, which lies about 67,000 feet above central California. When cosmic rays crash into Earth’s atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles that is most intense at the entrance to the stratosphere. Physicists Eric Regener and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.
Essential web links NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center The official U.S. government space weather bureau Atmospheric Optics The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena. Solar Dynamics Observatory Researchers call it a “Hubble for the sun.” SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever. STEREO 3D views of the sun from NASA’s Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory Solar and Heliospheric Observatory Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO. SolarMonitor.org information about sunspots based on the latest NOAA/USAF Active Region Summary Starlink Satellite Statistics current counts of failed and deployed Starlink satellites from Jonathan’s Space Page The Aerospace Corporation Authoritative predictions of space junk and satellite re-entries Daily Sunspot Summaries from the NOAA Space Environment Center NOAA 27-Day Space Weather Forecasts fun to read, but should be taken with a grain of salt! Forecasts looking ahead more than a few days are often wrong. Aurora 30 min forecast from the NOAA Space Environment Center Live Aurora Webcam from Lights over Lapland Heliophysics the underlying science of space weather
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