Lately, the Sun has been behaving a bit strangely. In 2008 and 2009, it showed the least surface activity in nearly a century. Solar flare activity stopped cold and weeks and months went by without any sunspots, or areas of intense magnetism. Quiet spells are normal for the Sun, but researchers alive today had never seen anything like that two-year hibernation.
Now that the Sun is approaching the peak of its magnetic cycle, when solar storms — blasts of electrically charged magnetic clouds — are most likely to occur, no one can predict how it will behave. Will solar activity continue to be sluggish, or will solar storms rage with renewed vigor?… Seguir leyendo »
of the greatest advances in space technology has been the military’s Global Positioning System satellites, which provide remarkably accurate navigation information for everything from smart phones and cars to pet collars.
But the navigational data is only one part of the program’s mission. The Nuclear Detonation Detection System, an array of sensors also on board the satellites, watches the world for nuclear explosions. In the process, it collects mounds of environmental data which, in the hands of climate scientists, could add greatly to our understanding of global warming.
Unlike the G.P.S. information, however, much of the detection system data is hidden behind bureaucratic walls by national security agencies, which treat it as classified, even though it isn’t, and even though there’s no compelling national security reason to do so.… Seguir leyendo »