Along with the visible light and warmth constantly emitted by our sun comes a whole spectrum of X-ray and ultraviolet radiation that streams toward Earth.
Ultimately, solar eruptions impact Earth’s upper atmosphere: X-rays from the sun can disturb near-Earth space, interfering with GPS, radio and other communication signals. The class of X-rays that MinXSS observes are particularly important for their influence in the level of the upper atmosphere called the ionosphere.
The video was made using MinXSS data from a low-intensity solar flare that occurred on July 21, 2016, from 1:33-2:23 UT, and imagery from NASA’s SDO. On the graph, pre-flare levels are shown in red, and the yellow line is the flare spectrum in real-time. MinXSS saw energy and brightness increase during the solar flare, which is apparent in the corresponding SDO images when a loop of solar material rises from an active region on the sun and shines brightly. .
The video shows how dynamic the solar atmosphere can become, and highlights that MinXSS has great sensitivity to observe even the weak flares. These observations exemplify the goals of the six-month mission, which began after the spacecraft was deployed from the International Space Station in May 2016 and has already met its criteria for comprehensive success. The University of Colorado, Boulder, manages MinXSS under the direction of principal investigator Tom Woods.
Taken by astronauts on May 16, 2016, these images show a CubeSat deployment from the International Space Station. The bottom-most CubeSat is the NASA-funded MinXSS CubeSat, built by the University of Colorado, Boulder.
These photos were taken by astronaut Tim Peake on the space station, which I then compiled into a movie. The University of Colorado at Boulder MinXSS CubeSat is in front and the University of Michigan CADRE CubeSat follows. Deployment occurred on 2016 May 16 at 10:05:26 UTC.
Credit: James Mason