New USPS Sun Science Stamps Celebrate Exploration of Our Closest Star
(WTAJ) – The United States Postal Service has created a series of Sun Science stamps highlighting a range of solar activities captured by a NASA spacecraft from more than a decade of observing the sun.
In 2010, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) launched a spacecraft to continuously monitor the sun from a geosynchronous orbit above the Earth. Each image is colorized by NASA to display different wavelengths that highlight specific characteristics of the sun’s activity.
“What SDO has done is give us the ecology of the Sun. We see big events, we see small events, and now we start to see how each size affects the others. It gives us the big picture, one detail at a time, ”said Dr. Dean Pesnell, Project SDO scientist at NASA Goddard, in a press release.
The stamp collection includes 10 images of the sun; two coronal holes, two coronal loops, two views of a solar flare, a view of an active sun, two which represent plasma explosions and a view of sunspots.
The science behind each stamp can be found below:
A coronal hole is an area magnetically open to the Sun where the high-speed solar wind escapes into space (the dark area seen in the northern region of the top image).
Coronal loops are arcs of light that spiral along the Sun’s magnetic field lines by charged particles (the lower right side of the top image). Coronal loops can often be found on sunspots and regions of strong magnetic fields of the Sun.
A class X flare (visible top right of the top image) is the most powerful type of solar flare. Bursts of light can disrupt the Earth’s atmosphere where GPS and radio signals are present.
The active regions of the Sun are areas of intense and complex magnetic fields. These spots are prone to solar flares or coronal mass ejection explosions.
A plasma explosion is a coronal mass ejection (seen at the bottom left of the top image). These explosions can create effects on Earth when they collide with the planet’s magnetosphere.
A sunspot is the visible light that we can see. Sunspots appear to be dark because they are relatively cool compared to the surrounding material of the sun.
The stamps were unveiled in a ceremony at the main post office in Greenbelt, Md. On June 18, and are on sale at post offices nationwide.
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