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posted by janrinok on Thursday May 12, @02:03PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the unimaginable-power dept.

NASA Mission Finds Tonga Volcanic Eruption Effects Reached Space:

When the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano erupted on Jan. 15, 2022, it sent atmospheric shock waves, sonic booms, and tsunami waves around the world. Now, scientists are finding the volcano's effects also reached space.

Analyzing data from NASA's Ionospheric Connection Explorer, or ICON, mission and ESA's (the European Space Agency) Swarm satellites, scientists found that in the hours after the eruption, hurricane-speed winds and unusual electric currents formed in the ionosphere – Earth's electrified upper atmospheric layer at the edge of space.

[...] When the volcano erupted, it pushed a giant plume of gases, water vapor, and dust into the sky. The explosion also created large pressure disturbances in the atmosphere, leading to strong winds. As the winds expanded upwards into thinner atmospheric layers, they began moving faster. Upon reaching the ionosphere and the edge of space, ICON clocked the windspeeds at up to 450 mph – making them the strongest winds below 120 miles altitude measured by the mission since its launch.

In the ionosphere, the extreme winds also affected electric currents. Particles in the ionosphere regularly form an east-flowing electric current – called the equatorial electrojet – powered by winds in the lower atmosphere. After the eruption, the equatorial electrojet surged to five times its normal peak power and dramatically flipped direction, flowing westward for a short period.

Journal Reference:
Brian J. Harding, Yen-Jung Joanne Wu, Patrick Alken, et al., Impacts of the January 2022 Tonga Volcanic Eruption on the Ionospheric Dynamo: ICON-MIGHTI and Swarm Observations of Extreme Neutral Winds and Currents, Geo. Res. Lett., 49, 9, 2022
DOI: 10.1029/2022GL098577


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @02:37PM (6 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @02:37PM (#1244402)

    To send spores, bacteria and viruses into space that can escape the gravity well with enough inertia and protection to reach other planets?

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @03:15PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @03:15PM (#1244423)

      Because we can find meteorites from Mars on the ground, I think the planet-to-planet answer to your question is yes, it is possible. I'm no expert in this area, but I think there's still a lot of interesting questions to find the answers to to determine how likely it is.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday May 12, @06:59PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 12, @06:59PM (#1244497) Journal

        10 Panspermia could be the explanation for all life in the universe.
        20 Every planet with life acquired it from some other planet which had life earlier.
        30 GOSUB 10

        --
        While in an airport, never use the word "balm".
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @03:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @03:23PM (#1244430)

      Yes! It's also possible - provided they're standing in the right place at the right time - to send Tongans into space.

    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Thursday May 12, @03:29PM (1 child)

      by Freeman (732) on Thursday May 12, @03:29PM (#1244432) Journal

      Those spores, bacteria, and viruses would need some way to survive the harshness of space.

      --
      Forced Microsoft Account for Windows Login → Switch to Linux.
      • (Score: 4, Informative) by HiThere on Thursday May 12, @04:50PM

        by HiThere (866) on Thursday May 12, @04:50PM (#1244456) Journal

        Some bacteria, at least, are know to survive for years in space. Not sure about decades. And for panspermia they'd best be enclosed in rock or frozen gases. (They also need a much higher velocity, as they need to escape from the solar system.)

        --
        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday May 12, @06:51PM

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 12, @06:51PM (#1244494) Journal

      To cause an ejection from the planet with sufficient velocity to escape the solar system would require a very unusual arrangement of pixels as a trigger.

      --
      While in an airport, never use the word "balm".
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @06:55PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @06:55PM (#1244495)

    "underwater eruption". does it matter that the water was enormous, continues around a sphere and salty?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @08:43PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @08:43PM (#1244561)

      I've never looked up how deep the volcano was before it blew and how much the water dampened the eruption (people are probably still analyzing/modeling that). Makes you wonder what the eruption would have been like had the top of the volcano been above sea level. As it was, the atmospheric pressure wave was measured on barometers all around the world.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @09:52PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, @09:52PM (#1244596)

        i meant, like the "ribbon" of conducting salt water around the earth was "breached enough" or "forcefully" enough to effect that upper athmosphere elecric thingy.
        obviously (?) these two things are linked? both being non-insulators and "not too far away" from eachother? *shrug*

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @12:43AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 13, @12:43AM (#1244627)

          No, I don't think it had anything to do with the ocean or its conductivity. I think it was as simple as a huge blast of atmosphere (and some ocean, I suppose) was blown up into the stratosphere and ionosphere and disrupted it. I'm sure the pressure wave went much higher than any of the material blown up.

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