Calm down, already. NASA swears that the Earth absolutely, definitely will not be annihilated by a massive flaming belch from the sun this year.
But just in case you're still a little worried, you'll no doubt be reassured to know the august space agency is holding nothing back in its efforts to study the sun's activity in 2012. In fact, it's even gone so far as to enlist the help of a very, very serious group of high school students, equipped with that most serious of scientific instruments: the rubber chicken.
Yes, students of Bishop Union High in Bishop, Calif. -- along with their mentor, Science@NASA's Tony Phillips, and a group of fifth-grade assistants -- recently launched a rubber chicken into the stratosphere during the most intense solar radiation storm since 2003.
Don't post a nasty, budget-related comment just yet, though. This wasn't any old astrorubberchicken; this was Camilla -- the mascot of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory -- and she was wearing a specially knitted spacesuit complete with high-tech sensors for measuring radiation. She was also accompanied by a specially modified lunchbox equipped with four cameras, two GPS trackers, a cryogenic thermometer, two-dozen sunflower seeds, and seven insects.… Read more