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Bad Space Weather Continues – Spacecraft Affected

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
January 20, 2005

Editor’s note: reliable sources report that NASA spacecraft such as Deep Impact, Spitzer Space Telescope, Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe – and others – may all have suffered attitude control and other problems – all apparently due to the massive solar proton storm which arrived in near-Earth space late Wednesday. Details to follow.

Editor’s note: According to NASA sources “The WMAP star trackers were “blinded” by the solar storm on Thursday morning at 07:35 UTC. The trackers tried to switch back and forth, but since both CCD’s were saturated with high-energy particles, they timed-out and dropped WMAP into Sun Acquisition mode. The operations team, thanks to the JPL DSN Operations Chief and the Station 43 crew, was able to extend the 12:40 pass and the spacecraft was returned to observing mode by 13:40 UTC.”

Joint USAF/NOAA Report of Solar and Geophysical Activity 20 Jan 2005

“Today’s CME (associated with the X7 flare) is not expected to produce anything more than a glancing blow due to its direction away from the Sun-Earth line. The greater than 10 MeV flux is expected to remain above event threshold for at least another 24 hours.”

NOAA SEC Space Weather Advisory Bulletin #05-3

“This radiation storm is particularly interesting because of the influx of high energy protons (>100 MeV). In fact, this radiation storm, based on the >100 MeV protons, is the strongest since October 1989.”

As Winter Grips Most of the Nation, There’s Plenty of Space Weather Too, NOAA

“This activity is occurring almost five years past the solar maximum (April 2000). This activity is significant. However, it is considerably less intense than the activity observed during the “Halloween Storms” of 2003.”

NASA Watch founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.