Week 8_ The Natural Wonders of Space by beverly okereke

This week’s topic on space has been very intriguing. I personally, long been a fan of space and its natural phenomenon, and I believe that there is so much that science can do to explore even more of it.  The planets and the sun, and how they are all intertwined within one galaxy filled with stars, moons, satellites, and the like are part of nature’s trove of near-magical mysteries.

Recently I have been studying about space weather and the affects it has on the earth and its inhabitants. Space weather has been proven to have affected astronauts on space missions, airline attendants on commercial flights in the north, or even the ozone layer that protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.  However, the effects space weather is not always damaging or negative. The aurora borealis, or northern polar lights above the North Pole is a space weather phenomenon and a most beautiful sight.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

 This bright phenomenon of lights and beauty is not only restricted to the north, however. It can also be seen in the over the southern hemisphere as well. In this case, these lights are called aurora australis, or southern polar lights. 

Regardless which hemisphere the lights occur at, one can say that the auroras have been around for centuries.  Occurring above each of the earth’s magnetic poles (northern and southern) these auroras are the product of space weather, or, more specifically, solar weather.  Highly charged particles come from the sun and reach the earth in what is called a solar wind. This solar wind makes contact with the earth’s magnetic field, and the collisions, as energy is released, emit light in wondrous and awe- inspiring displays. Aurora Borealis

As one may gather from the video, the aurora borealis, as beautiful and breathtaking as it may be, can also cause a number of problems when strong enough. This strange phenomenon has been known to disrupt GPS signals and electric currents, among other thing, once they take place in the earth’s upper atmosphere. NASA - Aurora Borealis

In order to be somewhat more prepared for the auroras as the hit, and in order to better understand their mystery, NASA launched a project early last year called THEMIS. With this launch, they have been able to better track the auroras and the sun’s emissions as they occur. Here is the main page for the NASA THEMIS mission: NASA - THEMIS  

Since its launch, THEMIS has made a great impact on what we know about space weather and the auroras, including what causes the movements of the northern lights. Click on the image below to read more and see some animations about the new findings about this topic.

What causes

Aurora Australis

For more information on space weather in general, as well as a few links to more space weather information and recent news about space weather, check out this link:

Space

Space

 Here’s a music video of one of my favorite singers, with a mix of the aurora borealis in the video: Aurora Borealis/Celine Dion - Faith - MIX

 

Project Proposal: 

For my final project, I will continue with the idea of the human body/medicine, but I will also add in the idea of consciousness and memory as well.  My topic for the final will be different than my midterm topic however. In stead of discussing the issues of obesity and weight, I will now discuss the issue of children with autism and the difficulty they have with learning and adjusting to “our world” and way of life. I propose that specialized programs must be developed that are especially geared towards the autstic child as an individual.

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