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September 23, 2011

UARS Satellite can be affected by solar activity

I thought that this article was pretty interesting since we just learned a little bit about atmospheric drag in chapter 4. The Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) was supposed to be headed back towards the Earths Atmosphere by sometime around this afternoon. Astronomers and scientists have had a tough time keeping track of its path and the pace due to how the Earth's atmosphere can warm up as a result of incoming energy and particles form the sun. Satellites often experience a drag while moving through the outer parts of the Earths atmosphere more commonly known as the thermosphere. As this thermosphere begins to puff up through the heat given off by x-radiation, the more drag the satellites will experience when re-entering the earth. Specifically for satellites with low altitudes, this increase in energy comes from sun spots and solar flares. Scientists state that the number of photons can increase by a 100 times or more from one single flare. It will be interesting to see if the UARS entered the earth's atmosphere without any problems.

You can read more about this article on http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110923102539.htm

Posted by aakashj at September 23, 2011 03:15 PM

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