MARTIAN DUST STORM GOES GLOBAL: It's official: A massive dust storm on Mars is now a global event, according to NASA. The storm swallowed NASA's Opportunity rover in early June, silencing the solar powered robot. Two weeks later the dust cloud has encircled all of Mars. NASA's nuclear-powered Curiosity rover is still functioning and reports that the opacity of the air doubled over the weekend, setting a new record for airborne dust. Stay tuned for updates.
SOLAR MINIMUM SUNSPOT: During the past 24 hours, sunspot AR2715 has almost quadrupled in size, growing two dark cores larger than Earth. The active region is now crackling with low-level solar flares such as this C2-class explosion recorded by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory at 01:15 UT on June 21st:
A pulse of extreme ultraviolet radiation from the flare briefly ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean (map), causing a shortwave radio brownout at frequencies below 10 MHz. People who might have noticed the disturbance include mariners and ham radio operators.This is a "Solar Minimum sunspot." In recent months, sunspot numbers have plummeted as the solar cycle shifts toward a deep minimum. On more than half of the days so far in 2018, the face of the sun has been completely blank without any sunspots at all. Even during Solar Minimum, however, big sunspots pop up from time to time--hence, AR2715. We will monitor this region carefully and post frequent updates about its growing potential for flares