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Sun Earth Day 2013 | by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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Sun Earth Day 2013

Every year, near the spring equinox, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., hosts an extravaganza on the science of the sun and its interactions with Earth, a field known as heliophysics. On March 22, 2013, experts from Goddard visited both NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia’s eastern shore and the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore. The theme for the event was Solar Max – Storm Warning!


The day is part of a year long program of presentations and events – many hosted by museums and educators around the world – to celebrate the science of our connected sun-Earth system. Collectively, the events are known as Sun-Earth Days.

On Mar. 22, the Sun Earth Days team joined forces with the producers of NASA EDGE. NASA EDGE is an unscripted, non-traditional video podcast (vodcast) that combines funny, offbeat and informative sketches, features and interviews. NASA EDGE led a live webcast from Wallops, which is NASA's principal facility for management and implementation of suborbital research programs. Wallops is responsible for launching many of NASA’s Heliophysics sounding rockets.

The Mar. 22 event focused on how active and dynamic the sun is as it nears the peak of solar activity, known as solar maximum, expected to occur in 2013. Participants included, among others: Goddard solar scientist Alex Young, who discussed NASA’s heliophysics space missions, which help scientists better understand what causes the giant explosions on the sun such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections; Dan Smith, a scientist at Johns Hopkins’ Advanced Physics Laboratory, who discussed the Van Allen Probes mission studying Earth’s radiation belts; and Goddard space scientist Doug Rowland, who discussed a sounding rocket mission called VISIONS that studied streams of oxygen produced during aurora called the auroral wind.


During the webcast, the team announced the first two -- of an eventual five total -- winners of the Sun-Earth Days’ Anime Contest, a contest to create super hero sidekicks for SolarMAX, the official super hero mascot for NASA’s Sun-Earth Days. The winners were Maria Malcia, an 8th grader at the National High School of Computer Science in Tudor Vianu, Bucharest for a superhero called Aurora and WooKyung Lee at Suyvesant High School in New York City for a superhero named Queen Solaris.


At the Maryland Science Center, over 2,000 children participated in hands-on activities with Goddard educators. The children learned about the solar cycle, solar maximum, space weather and how space weather can affect orbiting spacecraft and even technology here on Earth. Up on the roof top, visitors could observe the sun through a solar telescope as well as experiment with special beads that change color in response to the sun’s ultraviolet light.


Text Credit: Karen Fox, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Debbie Mccallum


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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.


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Taken on March 22, 2013