Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 19:30 EDT

Latest Flux transfer event Stories

Process Linked To Northern Lights Observed
2012-06-04 04:38:00

A University of Iowa researcher wants you to visualize a plate of spaghetti when you think of the northern lights. That´s because Jack Scudder, UI professor of physics and astronomy, and his colleagues have reached a milestone in describing how the northern lights work by way of a process called “magnetic reconnection.” The details are contained in a paper published in the June 5 issue of the journal Physical Review Letters; however, the process is best imagined as...

2009-08-20 10:00:00

On September 29, the MESSENGER spacecraft will pass by Mercury for the third time, flying 141.7 miles above the planet's rocky surface for a final gravity assist that will enable it to enter orbit about Mercury in 2011. This encounter will also provide new observational opportunities for MESSENGER's Magnetometer, designed to determine the structure and origin of Mercury's intrinsic magnetic field. The comparison of magnetosphere observations from MESSENGER's first flyby in January 2008 with...

2009-06-02 11:30:00

As the closest planet to the sun, Mercury is scorching hot, with daytime temperatures of more than 800 degrees Fahrenheit (approximately 450 degrees Celsius). It is also the smallest rocky planet, so its gravity is weak, only about 38 percent of Earth's. These conditions make it hard for the planet to hold on to its atmosphere, which is extremely thin, and invisible to the human eye. However, it can be seen by special instruments attached to telescopes and spacecraft like MESSENGER (MErcury...

2008-10-31 05:45:00

During the time it takes you to read this article, something will happen high overhead that until recently many scientists didn't believe in. A magnetic portal will open, linking Earth to the sun 93 million miles away. Tons of high-energy particles may flow through the opening before it closes again, around the time you reach the end of the page. "It's called a flux transfer event or 'FTE,'" says space physicist David Sibeck of the Goddard Space Flight Center. "Ten years ago I was pretty sure...

2006-10-03 17:45:15

Co-ordinated efforts by China/ESA's Double Star and ESA's Cluster spacecraft have allowed scientists to zero in on an area where energetic particles from the Sun are blasting their way through the Earth's magnetic shield. Solar material penetrating the Earth's magnetic shield can represent a hazard to both astronauts and satellites. On 8 May 2004, one of the two Double Star satellites (TC-1) and all four Cluster spacecraft found themselves in the firing line. For about 6 hours, the...