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Science AMA series: We’re scientists at NASA studying the sun, planets and solar system; ask us anything about the spring equinox (happening today), the sun and the total solar eclipse in August 2017!
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EDIT, NOTE FROM THE MODS: The Spring Equinox 2017 will occur in the Northern Hemisphere at 6:28 AM EST on Monday, March 20, NOT today. The date of the AMA was moved and the headline was not updated! Apologies to anyone we’ve confused! – THANKS EVERYONE!! – We appreciate the great questions, comments and support. It’s been wonderful engaging with your enthusiastic content and we look forward to speaking with everyone again during future Reddits or any of our multitude of other NASA social media events. Our scheduled time for this event has ended, though some of us may continue to answer questions throughout the day, weekend or when our schedule allows. However, please feel free to continue to talk amongst yourselves. One great thing about our NASA fans is the depth of your combined knowledge and willingness to share it with the world. Thanks everyone and good luck with your Solar Eclipse viewing. Don’t forget to follow us on our social media channels, as we will have several opportunities to discuss the Solar Eclipse event, as well as other topics. :-) Sincerely, The NASA Goddard and NASA Marshall teams Hi reddit! We are scientists at NASA are studying heliophysics and how the sun, heliosphere and planetary environments function as a single, connected system and how elements of the system like space weather affect solar, planetary and interstellar conditions. Heliophysics is the study of the sun’s influence throughout the solar system, and its connection to the Earth and the Earth’s extended space environment. Answering your questions today: Dr. Linda Habash Krause I am a space plasma physics experimentalist at NASA Marshall’s Science and Technology Office and Project Scientist of a joint US-Brazil satellite mission entitled “Scintillation Prediction Observation Research Task” (SPORT). This mission, due to launch into low Earth orbit in 2019, will observe plasma turbulence in the ionosphere responsible for operational outages in our GPS navigation systems and some of our satellite communication systems. This is form of “space weather” that is a result of the interactions between the sun, magnetosphere, ionosphere, and upper neutral atmosphere, and I have been studying it for over 20 years. My activites have included installation of an ionospheric observatory in Nigeria, invention of space plasma instruments for satellites, and performing both scientific and mission operations duties for sounding rockets, the Space Shuttle, the ISS, tethered satellites, and free-flying satellites, and data mining and analysis of large space weather data sets. Mitzi Adams I’m a heliophysicist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and co-author of a paper published in Nature that deals with solar jets seen in solar coronal holes. I study various solar phenomena, like the jets, but also prominences, sunspots and sunspot magnetic fields, in an attempt to understand solar variability and space weather. Understanding space weather is important for protecting our satellite resources, mobile phone communications, and Earth’s power systems. Nicki Viall I’m Nicki Viall, and I’m a solar physicist at NASA Goddard. I study the solar corona, the part of the sun that we will see during the total solar eclipse in August. I also study the solar wind – the part of the solar corona that continuously flows off the sun. I primarily use data taken with NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and NASA’s STEREO (Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory). One of the instruments on STEREO is called a coronagraph and works by artificially creating an eclipse so that we can continuously observe the corona. Eric Christian I design and build instruments to study energetic sub-atomic particles in space, and use the data from these instrument to improve our understanding of the Sun, the heliosphere, and the distant galaxy. These particles give clues to the origin and evolution of our Sun and planets, and other solar systems. They are also an important part of Space Weather that can be dangerous to satellites and astronauts, and even to technology down on Earth, and can affect the habitability of planets throughout the galaxy. For more information: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/overview/index.html https://www.facebook.com/NASASunScience https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov We’ll be back at noon EST to answer your questions! AUA!