NASA releases stunning image of ISS crossing in front of the sun
Strangely, the sun showed no sunspots at the time the photo was taken.
- The photo shows the International Space Station as it orbits the Earth, as it does every 90 minutes.
- The photo is remarkable because it offers a glimpse of the star at a time when there were no sunspots.
- In November, astronauts aboard the ISS plan to grow Española chili pepper plants.
NASA published a stunning photo showing the International Space Station cross in front of the sun. Regarding the picture, which was captured by Rainee Colacurcio, NASA officials wrote:
"Transiting the sun is not very unusual for the ISS, which orbits the Earth about every 90 minutes, but getting one's timing and equipment just right for a great image is rare. Strangely, besides that fake spot, in this recent two-image composite, the sun lacked any real sunspots. The featured picture combines two images — one capturing the space station transiting the sun — and another taken consecutively capturing details of the sun's surface."
The photo is remarkable because it offers a glimpse of the star at a moment when it was devoid of sunspots. As NASA further described:
"Sunspots have been rare on the sun since the dawn of the current Solar Minimum, a period of low solar activity. For reasons not yet fully understood, the number of sunspots occurring during both the previous and current solar minima have been unusually low."
The solar minimum is the lowest point of activity during the solar cycle — the 11-year period during which our sun's activity fluctuates. During its highest point of solar activity, the sun can bring about observable changes on Earth.
Image source: NASA
Illustration of a solar cycle
"Giant eruptions on the Sun, such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections, also increase during the solar cycle," NASA officials wrote. "These eruptions send powerful bursts of energy and material into space. This activity can have effects on Earth. For example, eruptions can cause lights in the sky, called aurora, or impact radio communications. Extreme eruptions can even affect electricity grids on Earth."
An image of a coronal mass ejection observed by NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, satellite in 2001. Image source: ESA/NASA/SOHO
Because of these effects, scientists do their best to forecast solar activity:
"Some cycles have maximums with lots of sunspots and activity. Other cycles can have very few sunspots and little activity. Scientists work hard to improve our ability to predict the strength and duration of solar cycles. These predictions can help them forecast these solar conditions, called space weather. Forecasting of the solar cycle can help scientists protect our radio communications on Earth, and help keep NASA satellites and astronauts safe, too."
The ISS and its astronauts won't be hurt by increased solar activity, but they will likely have a better chance of seeing auroras — commonly known as the northern lights.
In November, NASA astronauts aboard the ISS plan to grow Española chili pepper plants. If successful, it will be the first fruit grown in space by the space agency. The ability to grow nutritional food in space would be a necessity for long-distance space missions.
"We were also looking for varieties that don't grow too tall, and yet are very productive in the controlled environments that we would be using in space," NASA plant physiologist Ray Wheeler told Dylan Bida at the Rio Grande Sun. "The astronauts have often expressed a desire for more spicy and flavorful foods, and so having a bit of hot flavor also seemed to be a good thing. Plus, many peppers are very high in vitamin C, which is important for space diets."
From computer hacking to biohacking, Dave Asprey has embarked on a quest to reverse the aging process.
- As a teenager, founder of Bulletproof, Dave Asprey, began experiencing health issues that typically plague older adults.
- After surrounding himself with anti-aging researchers and scientists, he discovered the tools of biohacking could dramatically change his life and improve his health.
- He's now confident he'll live to at least 180 years old. "It turns out that those tools that make older people young make younger people kick ass," he says.
French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- The French government initially invested in a rural solar roadway in 2016.
- French newspapers report that the trial hasn't lived up to expectations.
- Solar panel "paved" roadways are proving to be inefficient and too expensive.
A new study estimated the untapped potential of wind energy across Europe.
- A new report calculated how much electricity Europe could generate if it built onshore wind farms on all of its exploitable land.
- The results indicated that European onshore wind farms could supply the whole world with electricity from now until 2050.
- Wind farms come with a few complications, but the researchers noted that their study was meant to highlight the untapped potential of the renewable energy source in Europe.