Proton "snow" storm (December 8, 2006)
Hi-res TIF image(3.2M)
SOHO was buffeted with a blast of high-energy proton that were propelled out from the Sun by one of a series of good-sized solar flares on Dec. 6 or 7, 2006. When the particles hit SOHO's CCD imagers, they can appear as streaks and specks, depending on the angle that they hit. The stream of particles continued hitting the SOHO imager for hours.
The source of all this activity is a new active region 930 (seen as a large sunspot) that rotated into view just on Dec. 5 and will be crossing the Sun and facing more directly towards Earth over the next 11 days or so. Its tangled configuration suggests that it might well send more solar storms our way. These solar energetic particles are the primary health hazard for long human exploration missions outside the earth's magnetosphere, e.g. to the moon or Mars. Part of NASA's Heliophysics Science Division's role in space exploration is working toward being able to predict such events.
And we are pleased to note that SOHO reached another milestone this week: the 11th year anniversary of its launch on Dec. 2, 1995. This represents real longevity for any spacecraft.
SOHO began its Weekly Pick some time after sending a weekly image or video clip to the American Museum of Natural History (Rose Center) in New York City. There, the SOHO Weekly Pick is displayed with some annotations on a large plasma display.
If your institution would also like to receive the same Weekly Pick from us for display (usually in Photoshop or QuickTime format), please send your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.