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New NASA CubeSat collects X-ray data on solar flares

By
Daniel Uria

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- A new NASA CubeSat launched from the International Space Station has begun collecting information on soft X-rays coming from solar flares.

The Miniature X-Ray Solar Spectrometer, or MinXSS, CubeSat began collecting information about the rarely studied soft X-rays emitted by the sun on June 9, 2016.

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The miniature satellite, which measures just about the size of a loaf of bread, was able to collect data on a solar flare from July 21, 2016 as seen in video captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

"Each type of solar radiation conveys unique information about the physics underlying solar flares," NASA said. "This data reveals the temperature, density and abundance of solar flare material, all critical factors for determining how flares evolve and heat the sun's atmosphere."

The MinXSS is designed to observe X-rays that can have a particular impact on GPS, radio and other communication signals in the upper atmosphere known as the ionosphere.

The data show off the MinXSS's ability to observe even the weak flares, which has helped it meet the criteria for comprehensive success of its six-month mission.

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