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back to article Christmas solar plasma belches to hit Earth, Mars - and Mars rover in space

In tune perhaps with the festively-overtaxed digestive processes of many Register readers and hacks, the Sun has lately been giving vent to frightful burning eruptions of internal gas; ones sufficiently awful to mean fatal consequences for unprotected humans in their path. Fortunately (in the case of the Sun at least) there are …

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jai
Silver badge

Shields up!

Red alert, number one!

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Alert

Long ago?

The moon landings were long ago? Is El Reg written by kiddies?

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Bronze badge

Re: Long ago?

Long ago as Internet time goes, fairly recently as human history.

I recall watching the first landing as a 7-year old, on the black-and-white vacuum-tube TV set at my granny's farm, now lost. Somehow I feel it is old history even for me...

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Trollface

Was it exciting Grandpa? Tell us what it was like....

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Perhaps it was written as a dig that manned space flight outside of Earth orbit hasn't happened since the early 70's. In 40 years we haven't been able to visit any other moons or planets. That's a long time not to have done something.

I raised this point with a retired engineer working at Kennedy Space Center on a visit some years ago. He was rather upset with me. Perhaps I should work on my diplomacy skills. Clearly he was no Scotty itching to get his hands dirty.

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Unhappy

The lunar landings were 39-42 years ago.

That's 2 generations ago.

Yes, that counts as long ago.

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So why hasn't ESA done any landings?

The ESA budget, as a percent of the EU' GDP is faaaaar behind Russia, USA, China and Japan. Please get them moving so that your pleas can be heard!

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If space were a swimming pool...

We paddled in the shallow end for a few minutes then dived in at the deep end like an Olympic champion. Since then we have spent the rest of the time in the shallow end as if the deep end were simply too scary to swim in. By now we should be swimming the Atlantic.

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Anonymous Coward

"So why hasn't ESA done any landings? "

More sense ?

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Belching Sun, hehe

Aurora really is a sight to behold! Sometimes I even wonder how long ago it was 1st ever witnessed by humans...or is it the end of the world again?

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Boffin

Is it turned on?

"...as it could sniff the roaring plasma gusts as they roll across its track using its coffee-tin sized Radiation Assessment Detector instrument."

I was going to ask if you knew if the Curiosity rover would be fully powered up during it's trip to Mars (called the Cruise Phase) as spacecraft are sometimes effectively dormant in transit. But a bit of digging here http://msl-scicorner.jpl.nasa.gov/Instruments/RAD/ found that :

"The RAD instrument will be used throughout the mission, including part of the cruise phase, to characterize the radiation environment of MSL. It is desirable for the instrument to be powered continuously while on the Martian surface. However, because of rover energy constraints, the present plan is to acquire roughly 15-minute observations every hour throughout each sol."

So it looks like there is a chance it may well be.

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Ru

RTG FTW

Curiosity's power source has a best before date, but has no restricted fuel supply or the need for some big solar panels to keep it charged. All the juice it is generating is going to waste right now; may as well do something useful with it during the flight.

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But Curiousity is 'all folded up'...

Isn't Curiousity folded up for aerodynamic reasons. If so, then the position of the detector could be non-optimal for cruise-mode operation. We need someone that knows, though.

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pja

Re: "The one exception"?

How 'bout times during north south pole flipping?

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Boffin

Yes, the ONE exception.

From wikipedia (not authoritative, but a good starting point):

Geomagnetic Reversal:

"The latest [geomagnetic reversal], the Brunhes–Matuyama reversal, occurred 780,000 years ago."

Homo Sapiens:

" Anatomically modern humans originated in Africa about 200,000 years ago, reaching full behavioral modernity around 50,000 years ago."

So we have not been exposed to a geomagnetic reversal in the short timeframe of our species existence. The article is correct.

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Joke

Now I understand....

"the Sun has lately been giving vent to frightful burning eruptions of internal gas; ones sufficiently awful to mean fatal consequences for unprotected humans in their path"

I thought you meant the newspaper

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I couldn't help but read

"the Sun has lately been giving vent to frightful burning eruptions of internal gas; ones sufficiently awful to mean fatal consequences for unprotected humans in their path.

Fortunately (in the case of the Sun at least) there are no such exposed bystanders."

in reference to the print edition and their readership instead of the burning sky orb.

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Bronze badge

Gasp!

Sun fails to cook turkey properly! Lots of gas all round!

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Mushroom

So, sounds like a routine solar event.....

I don't see how anything unusual could happen. After all, if it wasn't perfectly safe that Reed Richards guy wouldn't have taken a few of his friends up to the International Space Station!

(Now if you will excuse me, I have to go repair my fireplace. I suppose it's hammering time so that I can get my fire on. Wait, that doesn't sound right. Eh, screw it--I'll let someone else can say it better)

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Units of Measurement

To which set of measurement units does Coffee-Tin belong to? Also, exactly how large is a Coffee-Tin?

Tiny minds need to know...

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LEO is not space.

The reason all that LEO stuff comes down is atmospheric drag.

The planetary atmosphere is still detectable out past 1000km - "Ionosphere", etc.

<pedant mode = off>

Hopefully at some point in the future people will look at what we call space and laugh at how quaint the old definitions were.

(Having said that: The level of vacuum at LEO is a heck of a lot better than anything we can achieve on the ground and I want my Orion class 30,000 ton payload launcher.)

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