Dear Steve & Radsafers,
Some more info on this topic from Larry Kellogg at NASA (note especially the highlighted section near the end -- do you buy that ?) :
From: Larry Kellogg [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday April 03, 2001 4:42 PM
To: KMC739@aol.com; Franta, Jaroslav
Subject: Fwd: SUN UNLEASHES RECORD SUPERFLARE,EARTH DODGES SOLAR BULLET
FYI as this kind of activity is part of what fuels the Van Allen
See the NOAA site for some definitions of intensity.
>X-Authentication-Warning: spinoza.public.hq.nasa.gov: majordom set
>sender to owner-press-release using -f
>Date: Tue, 3 Apr 2001 15:50:27 -0400 (EDT)
>Subject: SUN UNLEASHES RECORD SUPERFLARE,EARTH DODGES SOLAR BULLET
>Headquarters, Washington, DC April 3, 2001
>Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD
>SUN UNLEASHES RECORD SUPERFLARE,
>EARTH DODGES SOLAR BULLET
> The Sun blasted one of its largest flares in 25 years
>from the same region harboring the largest sunspot of the
>current solar cycle Monday evening.
>The region, designated active region 9393, has continued to
>rotate with the Sun and is no longer in line with the Earth,
>so most of the flare's energy was directed away from our
>planet. However, radiation from the flare temporarily
>disrupted radio communications, and flare-related events
>generated a storm of high-velocity particles that, in greater
>numbers and energies, can affect sensitive electronic
>equipment in space.
>"This explosion was estimated as an X-20 flare, and was as
>strong as the record X-20 flare on August 16, 1989, " said Dr.
>Paal Brekke, the European Space Agency Deputy Project
>Scientist for the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO),
>one of a fleet of spacecraft monitoring solar activity and its
>effects on the Earth. "It was more powerful that the famous
>March 6, 1989 flare which was related to the disruption of the
>power grids in Canada."
>Monday's flare and the August 1989 flare are the most powerful
>recorded since regular X-ray data became available in 1976.
>Solar flares, among the solar system's mightiest eruptions,
>are tremendous explosions in the atmosphere of the Sun capable
>of releasing as much energy as a billion megatons of TNT.
>Caused by the sudden release of magnetic energy, in just a few
>seconds flares can accelerate solar particles to very high
>velocities, almost to the speed of light, and heat solar
>material to tens of millions of degrees.
>The flare erupted at 4:51 p.m. EDT Monday, and produced an R4
>radio blackout on the sunlit side of the Earth. An R4
>blackout, rated by the NOAA SEC, is second to the most severe
>R5 classification. The classification measures the disruption
>in radio communications. X-ray and ultraviolet light from the
>flare changed the structure of the Earth's electrically
>charged upper atmosphere (ionosphere). This affected radio
>communication frequencies that either pass through the
>ionosphere to satellites or are reflected by it to traverse
>The explosion, near the Sun's northwest limb (the upper right
>in SOHO images), was associated with an eruption of a cloud of
>electrified gas, called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, into
>space, but apparently not directed towards Earth.
>"We are perhaps lucky that this event didn't occur over the
>weekend, when the resulting CME would almost certainly have
>been aimed towards Earth," said Brekke. "A smaller flare-
>related CME event in March 1989 caused major power failures in
>Canada, and subsequent smaller events have disrupted
>communication and navigation satellites."
>Solar ejections are often associated with flares and sometimes
>occur shortly after the flare explosion. CMEs are clouds of
>electrified, magnetic gas weighing billions of tons ejected
>from the Sun and hurled into space with speeds ranging from 12
>to 1,250 miles per second. Depending on the orientation of the
>magnetic fields carried by the ejection cloud, Earth-directed
>CMEs cause magnetic storms by interacting with the Earth's
>magnetic field, distorting its shape and accelerating
>electrically charged particles (electrons and atomic nuclei)
>Severe solar weather is often heralded by dramatic auroral
>displays, northern and southern lights, and magnetic storms
>that occasionally affect satellites, radio communications and
>power systems. The flare and solar ejection has also generated
>a storm of high-velocity particles, and the number of
>particles with ten million electron-volts of energy in the
>space near Earth is now 10,000 times greater than normal. The
>increase of particles at this energy level still poses no
>appreciable hazard to air travelers, astronauts or satellites,
>and the NOAA SEC rates this radiation storm as a moderate S2
>to S3, on a scale that goes to S5.
>The SOHO project is an international cooperative program
>between NASA and the European Space Agency for the
>International Solar Terrestrial Science Program.
>For additional information and images regarding the flare,
>space weather and the giant sunspot, see:
> * * *
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Larry R. Kellogg
From: Frey, Steven R. [mailto:sfreyohp@SLAC.STANFORD.EDU]
Sent: Monday April 02, 2001 3:14 PM
To: RADSAFE (E-mail)
Subject: Solar activity dose to ISS astronaut
Fellow Radsafers -
What was the dose a crewmember aboard the
International Space Station (ISS) likely received from
last week's sunspot/solar flare event? Curious here.
Thanks in advance for any response.
Steven R. Frey,
Radiological Control Manager
Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC)
Room 266, Building 24, Mail Stop 84
2575 Sand Hill Road
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Phone: (650) 926-3839
email address: sfreyohp@SLAC.Stanford.EDU
Any opinion expressed here is the opinion of the writer
alone and is not meant to speak on behalf of SLAC