Antares and Sunspots at Sunrise

An Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket is seen on the launch pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility, Wallops Island, Va., on Jan. 8, 2014. Dark blemishes can be clearly seen on the face of the sun.  These are an intense, magnetically complex sunspot group that erupted with solar flares and coronal mass ejections. The eruptions resulted in enough solar energetic particles (SEP) funneling into near-Earth space that the Jan. 8 Antares launch was postponed, as the SEPs could have interfered with its computer systems. The rocket launched successfully on Jan. 9.

› More info on how space radiation can affect rocket launches
› More info on the giant sunspot group

Image copyright Dave Parrish Photography. Used with permission.
Caption: Karen C. Fox, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Page Last Updated: January 16th, 2014
Page Editor: Rob Garner