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N° 18–2001: ESA celebrates Sun-Earth Day on 27-28 April 2001

12 April 2001

The European Space Agency invites you to join with us in promoting Sun-Earth Day. This event, on 27-28 April, is an exciting opportunity to ponder our links with the nearest star and to celebrate the discoveries of ESA’s solar observatories, SOHO, Cluster and Ulysses.

Our Sun plays a central role in daily life, by warming and lighting the world, and powering the growth of living plants. Since ancient times, mankind has been aware of its importance, although not always understanding how or why. Now in the space age, man-made satellites monitor and probe the environs of the Sun, observing subtler and sometimes damaging effects on Earth. Studying this “space weather”, the collective term used to describe effects originating from the Sun, is an increasingly important activity in our technology-dependent society.

Solar storms are responsible for many dramatic events. A nine-hour power blackout in Canada, disabled satellites and corroded pipelines have all been blamed on the Sun. Even increased radiation risks to airline passengers and crews can result from high solar activity. Forecasting the space weather can alert us to upcoming storms and appropriate actions can be taken to minimise the impact of these events. The ability to forecast comes from our improved understanding of solar events which has been facilitated by solar physics research, including important contributions from six spacecraft built in Europe: SOHO stationed far out in space, the four Cluster satellites orbiting together around the Earth, and Ulysses, which flies over the poles of the Sun.

ESA invites you to join in an international effort, to promote public awareness of the dynamics of our Sun and its influence on the Earth. On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the ESA/NASA SOHO mission, this is an appropriate opportunity to highlight how solar physics research, both from space and from the ground, contributes valuable information which can impact on our daily life.

Events in local languages, at more than 40 locations throughout Europe, will celebrate this international Sun-Earth day with the support of ESA.

Useful web links

The ESA Sun-Earth day site: http://sci.esa.int/sun-earth
The ESA space weather site: http://www.estec.esa.nl/wmwww/spweather/
SOHO and Space Weather: http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/spaceweather
SOHO site: http://sci.esa.int/soho
Cluster site: http://sci.esa.int/cluster
Ulysses site: http://sci.esa.int/ulysses

For more information please contact:
ESA – Communication Department
Media Relations Office
Tel: +33(0)1.53.69.7155
Fax: +33(0)1.53.69.7690

Dr. Bernhard Fleck, ESA - SOHO Project Scientist
ESA Space Science Dept, c/o NASA- GSFC, Greenbelt (Maryland,USA)
Tel: +1 301 286 4098
Fax: +1 301 286 0264
Email: bfleck@esa.nascom.nasa.gov

Dr. Paal Brekke, ESA – SOHO Deputy Project Scientist
ESA Space Science Dept, c/o NASA- GSFC, Greenbelt (Maryland,USA)
Tel: +1 301 286 6983
Fax: +1 301 286 0264
Email: pbrekke@esa.nascom.nasa.gov

For more information on the Cluster and Ulysses missions please contact:

Dr. Philippe Escoubet, ESA – Cluster Project Scientist
Esa – Estec, Noordwik (The Netherlands)
Tel: +31 71 565 3454
Email: Philippe.Escoubet@esa.int

Dr. Richard Marsden, ESA – Ulysses Project Scientist
ESA – Estec, Noordwikk (The Netherlands)
Tel: +31 71 565 3583
Email: Richard.Marsden@esa.int


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