Parker Solar Probe Becomes Fastest-Ever Spacecraft

Parker Solar ProbAt about 10:54 p.m. EDT, Parker Solar Probe surpassed 153,454 miles per hour — as calculated by the mission team — making it the fastest-ever human-made object relative to the Sun. This breaks the record set by the German-American Helios 2 mission in April 1976.

Parker Solar Probe will repeatedly break its own records, achieving a top speed of about 430,000 miles per hour in 2024.

Source: NASA 

More details from NASA:

Parker Solar Probe will swoop to within 4 million miles of the sun’s surface, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it. Launching in 2018, Parker Solar Probe will provide new data on solar activity and make critical contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth.

In order to unlock the mysteries of the corona, but also to protect a society that is increasingly dependent on technology from the threats of space weather, we will send Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun.

In 2017, the mission was renamed for Eugene Parker, the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. In the 1950s, Parker proposed a number of concepts about how stars—including our Sun—give off energy. He called this cascade of energy the solar wind, and he described an entire complex system of plasmas, magnetic fields, and energetic particles that make up this phenomenon. Parker also theorized an explanation for the superheated solar atmosphere, the corona, which is – contrary to what was expected by physics laws — hotter than the surface of the sun itself. This is the first NASA mission that has been named for a living individual.

Parker can provide significant scientific insight into the next grand minimum, thus we will follow the program and the results on this blog. The first data dump will come in early December.

Parker will plunge toward the sun 24 more times in the next 8 years, breaking many records en route, and provide the scientist an opportunity to observe the next grand minimum up close if we are on the cusp of the Next Grand Minimum. Here’s the timeline.

Parker orbit_strip

H/T to Spaceweather.com with more details.

Stay tuned this is going to be an exciting venture into grand minimum science.

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A New Space Weather Metric

This is an interesting post at Spaceweather.com.

The daily Thermosphere Climate Index (TCI) is now on Spaceweather.com. TCI is a relatively new space weather metric that tells us how the top of Earth’s atmosphere (or “thermosphere”) is responding to solar activity. During Solar Maximum, the top of our atmosphere heats up and expands. Right now the opposite is happening. Solar Minimum conditions are in effect, and this is causing the upper atmosphere to cool off

tci_strip

TCI was invented by Martin Mlynczak of the Langley Research Center along with other NASA and university colleagues. For the past 17 years they have been using the SABER instrument onboard NASA’s TIMED satellite to monitor the wattage of infrared emissions from the top of the atmosphere. Recently, they realized that those measurements could be used to summarize the state of the thermosphere in a single daily index, the TCI, expressed in watts (W). Moreover, they learned to calculate TCI going back in time all the way to the 1940s, thus placing current conditions in a historical context.

So where do we stand? Right now TCI=4.6×1010 W. That means the top of Earth’s atmosphere is approximately 10 times cooler than it was during the record-setting Solar Max of 1957-58 (TCI=49.4×1010 W). The record low value for TCI, 2.1×1010 W, was set during the Solar Minimum of 2009. It’s still not that cold in the thermosphere, although we’re getting close.

You can monitor daily values of TCI right here on SpaceWeather.com. TCI not only tracks the slow progression of the 11-year solar cycle, but also it can change suddenly in response to solar flares and geomagnetic storms. As these events occur, we’ll be writing about them to raise awareness of the many ways the sun can dump energy into Earth’s atmosphere. Stay tuned!

Look at the TCI for the 1970 and you may recall the concern over global cooling, the coming of the next little ice age. The past cycle was cooler than the 1970s cycle, yet the global warming scare tactics continue.  It will be interesting to watch the TCI change over the next eleven years.  If it stays cold, this could be a pointer to the Next Grand Minimum. In the words of the folks at Spaceweather .com “Stay Tuned!”

Atmospheric Radiation Increasing from Coast to Coast in the USA

We are living in interesting times, we can observe the forces that control our climate. This is one of the interesting sites to watch.

Spaceweather.com

Oct. 24, 2018: So you thought Solar Minimum was boring? Think again. High-altitude balloon flights conducted by Spaceweather.com and Earth to Sky Calculus show that atmospheric radiation is intensifying from coast to coast over the USA–an ironic result of low solar activity. Take a look at the data:

atmospheric_radiation2Above: Radiation dose rates at the Regener-Pfotzer Maximum, ~65,000 ft high at the entrance to the stratosphere.

Since 2015, we have been monitoring X-rays, gamma-rays and neutrons in the stratosphere–mainly over central California, but also in a dozen other states (NV, OR, WA, ID, WY, KS, NE, MO, IL, ME, NH, VT). Everywhere we have been there is an upward trend in radiation–ranging from +20% in central California to +33% in Maine. The latest points, circled in red, were gathered during a ballooning campaign in August-October 2018.

How does Solar Minimum boost radiation? The answer lies in the yin-yang relationship between…

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Climate and the Solar Magnetic Field

Presentation by Professor Valentina Zharkova

When: Wednesday 31st October, from 6:00 PM – 7:30 PM
Where: 55 Tufton Street, Westminster, SW1P 3QL

Principal component analysis (PCA) of the solar background magnetic field observed from the Earth, revealed four pairs of dynamo waves, the pair with the highest eigen values are called principal components (PCs).

PCs are shown to be produced by magnetic dipoles in inner and outer layers of the Sun, while the second pair of waves is assumed produced by quadruple magnetic sources and so on. The PC waves produced by a magnetic dipole and their summary curve were described analytically and shown to be closely related to the average sunspot number index used for description of solar activity. Based on this correlation, the summary curve was used for the prediction of long-term solar activity on a millennial timescale. This prediction revealed the presence of a grand cycle of 350-400 years, with a remarkable resemblance to the sunspot and terrestrial activity features reported in the past millennia: Maunder (grand) Minimum (1645-1715), Wolf (grand) minimum (1200), Oort (grand) minimum (1010-1050), Homer (grand) minimum (800-900 BC); the medieval (900-1200) warm period, Roman (400-10BC) and other warm periods.

This approach also predicts the modern grand minimum upcoming in 2020-2055. By utilising the two principal components of solar magnetic field oscillations and their summary curve, we extrapolate the solar activity backwards one hundred millennia and derive weaker oscillations with a period of 2000-2100years (a super-grand cycle) reflecting variations of magnetic field magnitude. The last super-grand minimum occurred during Maunder Minimum with magnetic field growing for 500 years (until ~2150) and decreasing for another 500 years. The most likely nature of this interaction will be discussed and used to explain long-term variations of solar magnetic field and irradiance observed from the Earth. [Emphasis Added]
Invitation Link is HERE. Link Fixed.

If there is a reader that attends this presentation please write up a summary and post in the comments.  Thanks.

Update 10-20-18:  HERE is  a link to a YouTube Interview of  Professor Valentina Zharkova