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  • richardmitnick 9:21 am on September 28, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Solar research   

    From IAC Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands [Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias] (ES) : “IRSOL and IAC scientists solve a complex paradox in solar physics” 

    Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía

    From IAC Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands [Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias] (ES)

    18/08/2021

    Ernest Alsina Ballester
    ernest.alsina@iac.es

    Javier Trujillo Bueno
    jtb@iac.es

    In 1998, the journal Nature published a seminal letter concluding that the mysterious polarization signal that had been recently discovered in the light emitted by the sodium atoms of the solar atmosphere implies that the solar chromosphere (a very important layer of the solar atmosphere) is practically unmagnetized, in sharp contradiction with common wisdom. This paradox motivated laboratory experiments and theoretical investigations, which instead of providing a solution, raised new issues and even led some scientists to question the quantum theory of radiation-matter interaction. In an article published and highlighted today by the prestigious Physical Review Letters, Ernest Alsina Ballester (IRSOL – Istituto Ricerche Solari, Locarno, and IAC), Luca Belluzzi (IRSOL) and Javier Trujillo Bueno (IAC) show the solution to such intriguing paradox, which has puzzled solar physicists over the last decades. This research opens up a new window for exploring the elusive magnetic fields of the solar chromosphere in the present new era of large-aperture solar telescopes.

    Twenty-five years ago, an enigmatic signal was discovered [Nature] while analyzing the polarization of sunlight with a new instrument, the Zurich Imaging Polarimeter (ZIMPOL).

    This mysterious linear polarization signal appears at the 5896 Å wavelength of the D1 line of neutral sodium where, according to the line’s quantum numbers, no linear polarization due to scattering processes should be present. This polarization signal was therefore totally unexpected, and its interpretation immediately opened an intense scientific debate. The mystery further increased two years later, when the journal Nature published a letter with an explanation, which required that the sublevels of the lower level of the D1 line are not equally populated. In that theoretical work, the enigmatic polarization signal of the D1 line was reproduced remarkably well. However, the proposed explanation implied that the region of the solar atmosphere known as the chromosphere is completely unmagnetized, in apparent contradiction with established results, which instead indicate that the quiet regions (outside sunspots) of the solar chromosphere are permeated by magnetic fields in the gauss range. This opened a serious paradox, which has challenged solar physicists for many years, and even led some scientists to question the quantum theory of atom-photon interactions.

    A first breakthrough towards the resolution of the paradox was achieved in 2013 at the IAC, when Luca Belluzzi and Javier Trujillo Bueno theoretically discovered a new mechanism through which linear polarization can be produced in the sodium D1 line without the need of population imbalances in the lower level of the D1 line. However, that important step given by these researchers was for the idealized case of a solar atmosphere model without magnetic fields.

    2
    Figure 1: Variation with wavelength of the linear polarization (Q/I) of sunlight across the solar sodium D1 and D2 spectral lines (left panel) and across D1 (right panel). The black curves indicate the observed signals (the measurements were carried out at IRSOL with the ZIMPOL instrument). The red and blue curves show the results of theoretical calculations carried out neglecting (red) and including (blue) magnetic fields. An excellent agreement between the observation and the theoretical modeling is obtained when assuming that the quiet regions (outside sunspots) of the solar chromosphere are permeated by a magnetic field of 15 gauss.

    In an article published today by Physical Review Letters, the prestigious scientific journal of the American Physical Society, Ernest Alsina Ballester, Luca Belluzzi, and Javier Trujillo Bueno show the solution to this intriguing paradox, which has puzzled solar physicists since 1998. As shown in figure 1, this team of researchers has been able to reproduce the enigmatic observations of the D1 line polarization, in the presence of magnetic fields in the gauss range. To achieve this result, it was necessary to carry out the most complete theoretical modeling of this polarization signal ever attempted, accounting for the joint action of very complex physical mechanisms. This required three years of work, carried out through a close cooperation between the Istituto Ricerche Solari (IRSOL) in Locarno-Monti (affiliated to the Università della Svizzera italiana) and the POLMAG group of the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) in Tenerife.

    See http://research.iac.es/proyecto/polmag/

    This result has very important consequences. Linear polarization signals, like the one observed in the D1 line of sodium, are extremely interesting because they encode unique information on the elusive magnetic fields present in the solar chromosphere. This key interface layer of the solar atmosphere, located between the underlying cooler photosphere and the overlying million-degree corona, is at the core of several enduring problems in solar physics, including the understanding and prediction of the eruptive phenomena that may strongly impact our technology-dependent society. The magnetic field is known to be the main driver of the spectacular dynamical activity of the solar chromosphere, but our empirical knowledge of its intensity and geometry is still largely unsatisfactory. The solution of the long-standing paradox of solar D1 line polarization proves the validity of the present quantum theory of spectral line polarization, and opens up a new window to explore the magnetism of the solar atmosphere in the present new era of large-aperture solar telescopes.

    See the full article here .

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    IAC Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands [Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias] (ES) operates two astronomical observatories in the Canary Islands:

    Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma
    Teide Observatory on Tenerife.

    The Instituto de Astrofísica the headquarters, which is in La Laguna (Tenerife).

    Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos at La Palma (ES) at an altitude of 2400m.

    The seeing statistics at ORM make it the second-best location for optical and infrared astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere, after Mauna Kea Observatory Hawaii (US).

    Maunakea Observatories Hawai’i (US) altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)

    The site also has some of the most extensive astronomical facilities in the Northern Hemisphere; its fleet of telescopes includes the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias, the world’s largest single-aperture optical telescope as of July 2009, the William Herschel Telescope (second largest in Europe), and the adaptive optics corrected Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope.

    Gran Telescopio Canarias [Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias ](ES) sited on a volcanic peak 2,267 metres (7,438 ft) above sea level.

    Isaac Newton Group 4.2 meter William Herschel Telescope at Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma in the Canary Islands(ES), 2,396 m (7,861 ft)

    The observatory was established in 1985, after 15 years of international work and cooperation of several countries with the Spanish island hosting many telescopes from Britain, The Netherlands, Spain, and other countries. The island provided better seeing conditions for the telescopes that had been moved to Herstmonceux by the Royal Greenwich Observatory, including the 98 inch aperture Isaac Newton Telescope (the largest reflector in Europe at that time). When it was moved to the island it was upgraded to a 100-inch (2.54 meter), and many even larger telescopes from various nations would be hosted there.

    Teide Observatory [Observatorio del Teide], IAU code 954, is an astronomical observatory on Mount Teide at 2,390 metres (7,840 ft), located on Tenerife, Spain. It has been operated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias since its inauguration in 1964. It became one of the first major international observatories, attracting telescopes from different countries around the world because of the good astronomical seeing conditions. Later the emphasis for optical telescopes shifted more towards Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:31 am on September 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "An 'Internet apocalypse' could ride to Earth with the next solar storm new research warns", , Geomagnetics, , Solar research   

    From Live Science (US): “An ‘Internet apocalypse’ could ride to Earth with the next solar storm, new research warns” 

    From Live Science (US)

    9.6.21
    Brandon Specktor

    The underwater cables that connect nations could go offline for months, the study warns.

    The sun is always showering Earth with a mist of magnetized particles known as solar wind. For the most part, our planet’s magnetic shield blocks this electric wind from doing any real damage to Earth or its inhabitants, instead sending those particles skittering toward the poles and leaving behind a pleasant aurora in their wake.

    But sometimes, every century or so, that wind escalates into a full-blown solar storm — and, as new research presented at the SIGCOMM 2021 data communication conference warns, the results of such extreme space weather could be catastrophic to our modern way of life.

    In short, a severe solar storm could plunge the world into an “internet apocalypse” that keeps large swaths of society offline for weeks or months at a time, Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, an assistant professor at The University of California-Irvine (US), wrote in the new research paper. (The paper has yet to appear in a peer-reviewed journal).

    “What really got me thinking about this is that with the pandemic we saw how unprepared the world was. There was no protocol to deal with it effectively, and it’s the same with internet resilience,” Abdu Jyothi told WIRED. “Our infrastructure is not prepared for a large-scale solar event.”

    Part of the problem is that extreme solar storms (also called coronal mass ejections) are relatively rare; scientists estimate the probability of an extreme space weather directly impacting Earth to be between 1.6% to 12% per decade, according to Abdu Jyothi’s paper.

    In recent history, only two such storms have been recorded — one in 1859 and the other in 1921. The earlier incident, known as the Carrington Event, created such a severe geomagnetic disturbance on Earth that telegraph wires burst into flame, and auroras — usually only visible near the planet’s poles — were spotted near equatorial Colombia. Smaller storms can also pack a punch; one in March 1989 blacked out the entire Canadian province of Quebec for nine hours.

    Since then, human civilization has become much more reliant on the global internet, and the potential impacts of a massive geomagnetic storm on that new infrastructure remain largely unstudied, Abdu Jyothi said. In her new paper, she tried to pinpoint the greatest vulnerabilities in that infrastructure.

    The good news is, local and regional internet connections are likely at low risk of being damaged because fiber-optic cables themselves aren’t affected by geomagnetically induced currents, according to the paper.

    However, the long undersea internet cables that connect continents are a different story. These cables are equipped with repeaters to boost the optical signal, spaced at intervals of roughly 30 to 90 miles (50 to 150 kilometers). These repeaters are vulnerable to geomagnetic currents, and entire cables could be made useless if even one repeater goes offline, according to the paper.

    If enough undersea cables fail in a particular region, then entire continents could be cut off from one another, Abdu Jyothi wrote. What’s more, nations at high latitudes — such as the U.S. and the U.K. — are far more susceptible to solar weather than nations at lower latitudes. In the event of a catastrophic geomagnetic storm, it’s those high-latitude nations that are most likely to be cut off from the network first. It’s hard to predict how long it would take to repair underwater infrastructure, but Abdu Jyothi suggests that large-scale internet outages that last weeks or months are possible.

    In the meantime, millions of people could lose their livelihoods.

    “The economic impact of an Internet disruption for a day in the US is estimated to be over $7 billion,” Abdu Jyothi wrote in her paper. “What if the network remains non-functional for days or even months?”

    If we don’t want to find out, then grid operators need to start taking the threat of extreme solar weather seriously as global internet infrastructure inevitably expands. Laying more cables at lower latitudes is a good start, Abdu Jyothi said, as is developing resilience tests that focus on the effects of large-scale network failures.

    When the next big solar storm does blast out of our star, people on Earth will have about 13 hours to prepare for its arrival, she added. Let’s hope we’re ready to make the most of that time when it inevitably arrives.

    See the full article here .

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  • richardmitnick 10:40 am on September 5, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Scientists Figured Out How And When Our Sun Will Die And It's Going to Be Epic", , , , , , Humanity only has about one billion years left unless we find a way off this rock., , Solar research   

    From Science Alert (US) : “Scientists Figured Out How And When Our Sun Will Die And It’s Going to Be Epic” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert (US)

    5 SEPTEMBER 2021
    MICHELLE STARR

    1
    Credit: NASA/SDO

    What will our Sun look like after it dies? Scientists have made predictions about what the end will look like for our Solar System, and when that will happen. And humans won’t be around to see the final act.

    Previously, astronomers thought it would turn into a planetary nebula – a luminous bubble of gas and dust – until evidence suggested it would have to be a fair bit more massive.

    An international team of astronomers flipped it again in 2018 and found that a planetary nebula is indeed the most likely Solar corpse.

    The Sun is about 4.6 billion years old – gauged on the age of other objects in the Solar System that formed around the same time. Based on observations of other stars, astronomers predict it will reach the end of its life in about another 10 billion years.

    There are other things that will happen along the way, of course. In about 5 billion years, the Sun is due to turn into a red giant. The core of the star will shrink, but its outer layers will expand out to the orbit of Mars, engulfing our planet in the process. If it’s even still there.

    One thing is certain: By that time, we most certainly won’t be around. In fact, humanity only has about one billion years left unless we find a way off this rock. That’s because the Sun is increasing in brightness by about 10 percent every billion years.

    That doesn’t sound like much, but that increase in brightness will end life on Earth. Our oceans will evaporate, and the surface will become too hot for water to form. We’ll be about as kaput as you can get.

    It’s what comes after the red giant that has proven difficult to pin down. Several previous studies have found that, in order for a bright planetary nebula to form, the initial star needs to have been up to twice as massive as the Sun.

    However, the 2018 study used computer modeling to determine that, like 90 percent of other stars, our Sun is most likely to shrink down from a red giant to become a white dwarf and then end as a planetary nebula.

    “When a star dies it ejects a mass of gas and dust – known as its envelope – into space. The envelope can be as much as half the star’s mass. This reveals the star’s core, which by this point in the star’s life is running out of fuel, eventually turning off and before finally dying,” explained astrophysicist Albert Zijlstra from The University of Manchester (UK), one of the authors on the paper.

    “It is only then the hot core makes the ejected envelope shine brightly for around 10,000 years – a brief period in astronomy. This is what makes the planetary nebula visible. Some are so bright that they can be seen from extremely large distances measuring tens of millions of light years, where the star itself would have been much too faint to see.”

    The data model that the team created actually predicts the life cycle of different kinds of stars, to figure out the brightness of the planetary nebula associated with different star masses.

    Planetary nebulae are relatively common throughout the observable Universe, with famous ones including the Helix Nebula, the Cat’s Eye Nebula, the Ring Nebula, and the Bubble Nebula.

    2
    Cat’s Eye Nebula Credit: National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/The European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU).

    They’re named planetary nebulae not because they actually have anything to do with planets, but because, when the first ones were discovered by William Herschel in the late 18th century, they were similar in appearance to planets through the telescopes of the time.

    Almost 30 years ago, astronomers noticed something peculiar: The brightest planetary nebulae in other galaxies all have about the same level of brightness. This means that, theoretically at least, by looking at the planetary nebulae in other galaxies, astronomers can calculate how far away they are.

    The data showed that this was correct, but the models contradicted it, which has been vexing scientists ever since the discovery was made.

    “Old, low mass stars should make much fainter planetary nebulae than young, more massive stars. This has become a source of conflict for the past 25 years,” said Zijlstra

    “The data said you could get bright planetary nebulae from low mass stars like the sun, the models said that was not possible, anything less than about twice the mass of the sun would give a planetary nebula too faint to see.”

    The 2018 models have solved this problem by showing that the Sun is about the lower limit of mass for a star that can produce a visible nebula.

    Even a star with a mass less than 1.1 times that of the Sun won’t produce visible nebulae. Bigger stars up to 3 times more massive than the Sun, on the other hand, will produce the brighter nebulae.

    For all the other stars in between, the predicted brightness is very close to what has been observed.

    “This is a nice result,” Zijlstra said. “Not only do we now have a way to measure the presence of stars of ages a few billion years in distant galaxies, which is a range that is remarkably difficult to measure, we even have found out what the Sun will do when it dies!”

    The research has been published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

    An earlier version of this article was first published in May 2018.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 9:54 pm on August 18, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "A nonlinear damping mechanism for waves in the solar corona", , Solar research   

    From IAC Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands [Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias] (ES) : “A nonlinear damping mechanism for waves in the solar corona” 

    Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía

    From IAC Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands [Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias] (ES)

    17/08/2021

    1
    Scatter plot of oscillation amplitude and damping ratio values for 101 loop oscillation cases. The symbols and their colors indicate the levels of evidence obtained for the nonlinear (NL) and the linear resonant absorption (RA) models.

    The solar coronal heating problem originated almost 80 years ago and remains unsolved. A plausible explanation lies in mechanisms based on magnetic wave energy dissipation. Currently, several linear and nonlinear wave damping models have been proposed. The advent of space instrumentation has led to the creation of catalogues containing the properties of a large number of loop oscillation events. When the damping ratio of the oscillations is plotted against their oscillation amplitude, the data are scattered forming a cloud with a triangular shape. Larger amplitudes correspond in general to smaller damping ratio values and vice versa. Here, a Bayesian model comparison analysis has quantified the evidence for a nonlinear damping model relative to the evidence for linear resonant absorption in explaining the observed damping of coronal loop oscillations. The results indicate that there is qualitative agreement between the regions of high marginal likelihood and Bayes factor for the nonlinear damping model and the arrangement of observed data. A quantitative application to 101 loop oscillation cases observed with the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO, NASA) results in the marginal likelihood for the nonlinear model being larger in the majority of them. Moreover, the cases with conclusive evidence for the nonlinear model outnumber considerably those in favor of linear resonant absorption. Nonlinear damping is therefore a plausible explanation for the observed damping of solar coronal waves.

    Science paper:
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    IAC Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands [Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias] (ES) operates two astronomical observatories in the Canary Islands:

    Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma
    Teide Observatory on Tenerife.

    The seeing statistics at ORM make it the second-best location for optical and infrared astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere, after Mauna Kea Observatory Hawaii (US).

    Maunakea Observatories Hawai’i (US) altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)

    The site also has some of the most extensive astronomical facilities in the Northern Hemisphere; its fleet of telescopes includes the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias, the world’s largest single-aperture optical telescope as of July 2009, the William Herschel Telescope (second largest in Europe), and the adaptive optics corrected Swedish 1-m Solar Telescope.

    [caption id="attachment_72536" align="alignnone" width="632"] Gran Telescopio Canarias [Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias ](ES) sited on a volcanic peak 2,267 metres (7,438 ft) above sea level.

    The observatory was established in 1985, after 15 years of international work and cooperation of several countries with the Spanish island hosting many telescopes from Britain, The Netherlands, Spain, and other countries. The island provided better seeing conditions for the telescopes that had been moved to Herstmonceux by the Royal Greenwich Observatory, including the 98 inch aperture Isaac Newton Telescope (the largest reflector in Europe at that time). When it was moved to the island it was upgraded to a 100-inch (2.54 meter), and many even larger telescopes from various nations would be hosted there.

    Teide Observatory [Observatorio del Teide], IAU code 954, is an astronomical observatory on Mount Teide at 2,390 metres (7,840 ft), located on Tenerife, Spain. It has been operated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias since its inauguration in 1964. It became one of the first major international observatories, attracting telescopes from different countries around the world because of the good astronomical seeing conditions. Later the emphasis for optical telescopes shifted more towards Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on La Palma.

     
  • richardmitnick 5:10 pm on August 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Solving solar puzzle could help save Earth from planet-wide blackouts", A small-scale solar event in 1989 caused massive blackouts in Canada in what some initially thought might have been a nuclear attack., , In 2012 a solar storm similar in scale to the Carrington Event passed by Earth without impacting missing our orbit around the Sun by just nine days., In the most extreme cases solar geomagnetic storms can shower the Earth with pulses of radiation capable of frying our sophisticated global electronics and communication infrastructure., New solar modelling could help predict space weather., Solar research, The 1859 Carrington Event, The Sun’s internal magnetic field is directly responsible for space weather.,   

    From University of Sydney (AU) : “Solving solar puzzle could help save Earth from planet-wide blackouts” 

    U Sidney bloc

    From University of Sydney (AU)

    5 August 2021

    Dr Geoffrey Vasil
    Professor Keith Julien
    Dr Nicholas Featherstone

    New solar modelling could help predict space weather.

    Scientists at the University of Sydney and in the USA have solved a long-standing mystery about the Sun that could help astronomers predict space weather and help us prepare for potentially devastating geomagnetic storms if they were to hit Earth.

    The Sun’s internal magnetic field is directly responsible for space weather – streams of high-energy particles from the Sun that can be triggered by solar flares, sunspots or coronal mass ejections that produce geomagnetic storms. Yet it is unclear how these happen and it has been impossible to predict when these events will occur.

    Now, a new study led by Dr Geoffrey Vasil from the School of Mathematics & Statistics at the University of Sydney could provide a strong theoretical framework to help improve our understanding of the Sun’s internal magnetic dynamo that helps drive near-Earth space weather.

    The Sun is made up of several distinct regions. The convection zone is one of the most important – a 200,000-kilometre-deep ocean of super-hot rolling, turbulent fluid plasma taking up the outer 30 percent of the star’s diameter.

    Existing solar theory suggests the largest swirls and eddies take up the convection zone, imagined as giant circular convection cells.

    However, these cells have never been found, a long-standing problem known as the ‘Convective Conundrum’.

    Dr Vasil said there is a reason for this. Rather than circular cells, the flow breaks up into tall spinning cigar-shaped columns ‘just’ 30,000 kilometres across. This, he said, is caused by a much stronger influence of the Sun’s rotation than previously thought.

    “You can balance a skinny pencil on its point if you spin it fast enough,” said Dr Vasil, an expert in fluid dynamics. “Skinny cells of solar fluid spinning in the convection zone can behave similarly.”

    The findings have been published in the PNAS.

    “We don’t know very much about the inside of the Sun, but it is hugely important if we want to understand solar weather that can directly impact Earth,” Dr Vasil said.

    “Strong rotation is known to completely change the properties of magnetic dynamos, of which the Sun is one.”

    2
    Diagram showing the internal structure of the Sun based on existing theory that assumes circular convection cells near the solar surface. Dr Vasil’s new model suggests thinner, spinning ‘cigar-shaped’ convection cells driving the Sun’s magnetic dynamo. Image: National Aeronautics Space Agency (US).

    Dr Vasil and collaborators Professor Keith Julien of the University of Colorado-Boulder (US) and Dr Nicholas Featherstone at Southwest Research Institute (US) in Boulder, say that this predicted rapid rotation inside the Sun suppresses what otherwise would be larger-scale flows, creating more variegated dynamics for the outer third of the solar depth.

    “By properly accounting for rotation, our new model of the Sun fits observed data and could dramatically improve our understanding of the Sun’s electromagnetic behaviour,” said Dr Vasil, who is the lead author of the study.

    In the most extreme cases solar geomagnetic storms can shower the Earth with pulses of radiation capable of frying our sophisticated global electronics and communication infrastructure.

    A huge geomagnetic storm of this type hit Earth in 1859, known as the Carrington Event, but this was before our global reliance on electronics. The fledgling telegraph system from Melbourne to New York was affected.

    “A similar event today could destroy trillions of dollars’ worth of global infrastructure and take months, if not years, to repair,” Dr Vasil said.


    A solar coronal mass ejection in August 2012
    NASA | Magnificent Eruption in Full HD

    A small-scale event in 1989 caused massive blackouts in Canada in what some initially thought might have been a nuclear attack. In 2012 a solar storm similar in scale to the Carrington Event passed by Earth without impacting missing our orbit around the Sun by just nine days.

    “The next solar max is in the middle of this decade, yet we still don’t know enough about the Sun to predict if these cyclical events will produce a dangerous storm,” Dr Vasil said.

    “While a solar storm hitting Earth is very unlikely, like an earthquake, it will eventually happen and we need to be prepared.”

    Solar storms emerging from within the Sun can take from several hours to days to reach Earth. Dr Vasil said that better knowledge of the internal dynamism of our home star could help planners avoid disaster if they have enough warning to shut down equipment before a blast of energetic particles does the job instead.

    “We cannot explain how sunspots form. Nor can we discern what sunspot groups are most prone to violent rupture. Policymakers need to know how often it might be necessary to endure a days-long emergency shutdown to avoid a severe catastrophe,” he said.

    Dr Vasil and his colleagues’ theoretical model will now need to be tested through observation to further improve the modelling of the Sun’s internal processes. To do this, scientists will use a technique known as helioseismology, to listen inside the beating heart of the star.

    “We hope our findings will inspire further observation and research into the driving forces of the Sun,” he said.

    This could involve the unprecedented launch of polar orbiter observational satellites outside the elliptical plane of the Solar System.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    University of Sydney (AU)
    Our founding principle as Australia’s first university, U Sydney was that we would be a modern and progressive institution. It’s an ideal we still hold dear today.

    When Charles William Wentworth proposed the idea of Australia’s first university in 1850, he imagined “the opportunity for the child of every class to become great and useful in the destinies of this country”.

    We’ve stayed true to that original value and purpose by promoting inclusion and diversity for the past 160 years.

    It’s the reason that, as early as 1881, we admitted women on an equal footing to male students. University of Oxford (UK) didn’t follow suit until 30 years later, and Jesus College at University of Cambridge (UK) did not begin admitting female students until 1974.

    It’s also why, from the very start, talented students of all backgrounds were given the chance to access further education through bursaries and scholarships.

    Today we offer hundreds of scholarships to support and encourage talented students, and a range of grants and bursaries to those who need a financial helping hand.

    The University of Sydney (AU) is an Australian public research university in Sydney, Australia. Founded in 1850, it is Australia’s first university and is regarded as one of the world’s leading universities. The university is known as one of Australia’s six sandstone universities. Its campus, spreading across the inner-city suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington, is ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most beautiful universities by the British Daily Telegraph and the American Huffington Post. The university comprises eight academic faculties and university schools, through which it offers bachelor, master and doctoral degrees.

    The QS World University Rankings ranked the university as one of the world’s top 25 universities for academic reputation, and top 5 in the world and first in Australia for graduate employability. It is one of the first universities in the world to admit students solely on academic merit, and opened their doors to women on the same basis as men.

    Five Nobel and two Crafoord laureates have been affiliated with the university as graduates and faculty. The university has educated seven Australian prime ministers, two governors-general of Australia, nine state governors and territory administrators, and 24 justices of the High Court of Australia, including four chief justices. The university has produced 110 Rhodes Scholars and 19 Gates Scholars.

    The University of Sydney (AU) is a member of the Group of Eight, CEMS, the Association of Pacific Rim Universities and the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:13 pm on August 3, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA Model Describes Nearby Star which Resembles Ours in its Youth", At 4.65 billion years old our Sun is a middle-aged star., , , , Solar research   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US) : “NASA Model Describes Nearby Star which Resembles Ours in its Youth” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)

    Aug 3, 2021
    By Alison Gold
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    1
    A view of the Sun from the Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope on ESA/NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO. Credits: European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU)/National Aeronautics Space Agency (US).

    New research [The Astrophysical Journal] led by NASA provides a closer look at a nearby star thought to resemble our young Sun. The work allows scientists to better understand what our Sun may have been like when it was young, and how it may have shaped the atmosphere of our planet and the development of life on Earth.

    Many people dream of meeting with a younger version of themselves to exchange advice, identify the origins of their defining traits, and share hopes for the future. At 4.65 billion years old our Sun is a middle-aged star. Scientists are often curious to learn exactly what properties enabled our Sun, in its younger years, to support life on nearby Earth.

    2
    Illustration of what the Sun may have been like 4 billion years ago, around the time life developed on Earth.
    Credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Conceptual Image Lab.

    Without a time machine to transport scientists back billions of years, retracing our star’s early activity may seem an impossible feat. Luckily, in the Milky Way galaxy – the glimmering, spiraling segment of the universe where our solar system is located – there are more than 100 billion stars. One in ten share characteristics with our Sun, and many are in the early stages of development.

    “Imagine I want to reproduce a baby picture of an adult when they were one or two years old, and all of their pictures were erased or lost. I would look at a photo of them now, and their close relatives’ photos from around that age, and from there, reconstruct their baby photos,” said Vladimir Airapetian, senior astrophysicist in the Heliophysics Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and first author on the new study. “That’s the sort of process we are following here – looking at characteristics of a young star similar to ours, to better understand what our own star was like in its youth, and what allowed it to foster life on one of its nearby planets.”

    Kappa 1 Ceti is one such solar analogue. The star is located about 30 light-years away (in space terms, that’s like a neighbor who lives on the next street over) and is estimated to be between 600 to 750 million years old, around the same age our Sun was when life developed on Earth. It also has a similar mass and surface temperature to our Sun, said the study’s second author, Meng Jin, a heliophysicist with the SETI Institute (US) and the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory in California. All of those factors make Kappa 1 Ceti a “twin” of our young Sun at the time when life arose on Earth, and an important target for study.

    Airapetian, Jin, and several colleagues have adapted an existing solar model to predict some of Kappa 1 Ceti’s most important, yet difficult to measure, characteristics. The model relies on data input from a variety of space missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and NICER missions, and ESA’s XMM-Newton. The team published their study today in The Astrophysical Journal [above].

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    National Aeronautics Space Agency (US)/Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US) TESS

    Star Power

    Like human toddlers, toddler stars are known for their high bursts of energy and activity. For stars, one way this pent-up energy is released is in the form of a stellar wind.

    Stellar winds, like stars themselves, are mostly made up of a superhot gas known as plasma, created when particles in a gas have split into positively charged ions and negatively charged electrons. The most energetic plasma, with the help of a star’s magnetic field, can shoot off away from the outermost and hottest part of a star’s atmosphere, the corona, in an eruption, or stream more steadily toward nearby planets as stellar wind. “Stellar wind is continuously flowing out from a star toward its nearby planets, influencing those planets’ environments,” Jin said.

    Younger stars tend to generate hotter, more vigorous stellar winds and more powerful plasma eruptions than older stars do. Such outbursts can affect the atmosphere and chemistry of planets nearby, and possibly even catalyze the development of organic material – the building blocks for life – on those planets.

    Stellar wind can have a significant impact on planets at any stage of life. But the strong, highly dense stellar winds of young stars can compress the protective magnetic shields of surrounding planets, making them even more susceptible to the effects of the charged particles.

    3
    An artist concept of a coronal mass ejection hitting young Earth’s weak magnetosphere.
    Credits: NASA/GSFC/CIL.

    Our Sun is a perfect example. Compared to now, in its toddlerhood, our Sun likely rotated three times faster, had a stronger magnetic field, and shot out more intense high-energy radiation and particles. These days, for lucky spectators, the impact of these particles is sometimes visible near the planet’s poles as aurora, or the Northern and Southern Lights. Airapetian says 4 billion years ago, considering the impact of our Sun’s wind at that time, these tremendous lights were likely often visible from many more places around the globe.

    That high level of activity in our Sun’s nascence may have pushed back Earth’s protective magnetosphere, and provided the planet – not close enough to be torched like Venus, nor distant enough to be neglected like Mars – with the right atmospheric chemistry for the formation of biological molecules.

    Similar processes could be unfolding in stellar systems across our galaxy and universe.

    “It’s my dream to find a rocky exoplanet in the stage that our planet was in more than 4 billion years ago, being shaped by its young, active star and nearly ready to host life,” Airapetian said. “Understanding what our Sun was like just as life was beginning to develop on Earth will help us to refine our search for stars with exoplanets that may eventually host life.”

    A Solar Twin

    Though solar analogues can help solve one of the challenges of peeking into the Sun’s past, time isn’t the only complicating factor in studying our young Sun. There’s also distance.

    We have instruments capable of accurately measuring the stellar wind from our own Sun, called the solar wind. However, it’s not yet possible to directly observe the stellar wind of other stars in our galaxy, like Kappa 1 Ceti, because they are too far away.

    When scientists wish to study an event or phenomenon that they cannot directly observe, scientific modeling can help fill in the gaps. Models are representations or predictions of an object of study, built on existing scientific data. While scientists have previously modeled the stellar wind from this star, Airapetian said, they used more simplified assumptions.

    The basis for the new model of Kappa 1 Ceti by Airapetian, Jin, and colleagues is the Alfvén Wave Solar Model, which is within the Space Weather Modeling Framework developed by the University of Michigan. The model works by inputting known information about a star, including its magnetic field and ultraviolet emission line data, to predict stellar wind activity. When the model has been tested on our Sun, it has been validated and checked against observed data to verify that its predictions are accurate.

    “It’s capable of modeling our star’s winds and corona with high fidelity,” Jin said. “And it’s a model we can use on other stars, too, to predict their stellar wind and thereby investigate habitability. That’s what we did here.”

    Previous studies have drawn on data gathered by the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) to identify Kappa 1 Ceti as a young solar proxy, and to gather the necessary inputs for the model, such as magnetic field and ultraviolet emission line data.


    The hot stellar corona, the outermost layer in a star’s atmosphere, expands into the stellar wind, driven by heating from the star’s magnetic field and magnetic waves. The researchers modeled the stellar magnetic corona of Kappa 1 Ceti in 3D, based on data from 2012 and 2013. Credit: NASA.

    “Every model needs input to get output,” Airapetian said. “To get useful, accurate output, the input needs to be solid data, ideally from multiple sources across time. We have all that data from Kappa 1 Ceti, but we really synthesized it in this predictive model to move past previous purely observational studies of the star.”

    Airapetian likens his team’s model to a doctor’s report. To get a full picture of how a patient is doing, a doctor is likely to talk to the patient, gather markers like heart rate and temperature, and if needed, conduct several more specialized tests, like a blood test or ultrasound. They are likely to formulate an accurate assessment of patient well-being with a combination of these metrics, not just one.

    Similarly, by using many pieces of information about Kappa 1 Ceti gathered from different space missions, scientists are better able to predict its corona and the stellar wind. Because stellar wind can affect a nearby planet’s magnetic shield, it plays an important role in habitability. The team is also working on another project, looking more closely at the particles that may have emerged from early solar flares, as well as prebiotic chemistry on Earth.

    Our Sun’s Past, Written in the Stars

    The researchers hope to use their model to map the environments of other Sun-like stars at various life stages.

    Specifically, they have eyes on the infant star EK Dra – 111 light-years away and only 100 million years old – which is likely rotating three times faster and shooting off more flares and plasma than Kappa 1 Ceti. Documenting how these similar stars of various ages differ from one another will help characterize the typical trajectory of a star’s life.

    Their work, Airapetian said, is all about “looking at our own Sun, its past and its possible future, through the lens of other stars.”

    To learn more about our Sun’s stormy youth, watch this video and see how energy from our young Sun — 4 billion years ago — aided in creating molecules in Earth’s atmosphere, allowing it to warm up enough to incubate life.


    The Faint Young Star Paradox: Solar Storms May Have Been Key to Life on Earth.
    Our sun’s adolescence was stormy—and new evidence shows that these tempests may have been just the key to seeding life as we know it on Earth. Credit: NASA/Goddard/Genna Duberstein.

    See the full article here.


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition


    NASA/Goddard Campus

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (US) is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the NASA Deep Space Network(US) and the Near Earth Network); develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(US) .

    GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; the Explorers Program; the Discovery Program; the Earth Observing System; INTEGRAL; MAVEN; OSIRIS-REx; the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ; the Solar Dynamics Observatory; Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System ; Fermi; and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned Earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC, while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California(US).

    Goddard is one of four centers built by NASA since its founding on July 29, 1958. It is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication; planning; scientific research; technical operations; and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

    Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, MD was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

    Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

    The Goddard network tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

    Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

    Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System. The center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:49 pm on July 21, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Long-period oscillations of the Sun discovered", 5-minute oscillations have been observed continuously by ground-based telescopes and space observatories since the mid 1990’s and have been used very successfully by helioseismologists., All of these new oscillations we observe on the Sun are strongly affected by the Sun’s differential rotation., , , In addition to the 5-minute oscillations much longer-period oscillations were predicted to exist in stars more than 40 years ago but had not been identified on the Sun until now., In the 1960’s the Sun’s high musical notes were discovered: The Sun rings like a bell., MPG Institute for Solar System Research [MPG Institut für Sonnensystemforschun] (DE), Solar research, The dependence of the solar rotation with latitude determines where the modes have maximum amplitudes., The diagnostic potential of the long-period modes will be fully realized in the coming years using a new exascale computer model being developed as part of the project WHOLESUN., The discovery of a new type of solar oscillations is exciting because it allows us to infer properties such as the strength of the convective driving which ultimately control the solar dynamo., The oscillations are sensitive to properties of the Sun’s interior: the strength of the turbulent motions and the related viscosity of the solar medium and the strength of the convective driving.   

    From MPG Institute for Solar System Research [MPG Institut für Sonnensystemforschun] (DE) : “Long-period oscillations of the Sun discovered” 

    From MPG Institute for Solar System Research [MPG Institut für Sonnensystemforschun] (DE)

    July 20, 2021

    Dr. Birgit Krummheuer
    +49 173 3958625
    Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen
    Krummheuer@mps.mpg.de

    Prof. Dr. Laurent Gizon, Director
    Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen
    +49 551 384979-439
    Gizon@mps.mpg.de

    Dr. Robert Cameron
    Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Göttingen
    +49 551 384979-449
    Cameron@mps.mpg.de

    Ten years of data from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory combined with numerical models reveal the deep low musical notes of the Sun.

    A team of solar physicists led by Laurent Gizon of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) and the University of Göttingen [Georg-August-Universität Göttingen] (DE) in Germany has reported the discovery of global oscillations of the Sun with very long periods, comparable to the 27-day solar rotation period. The oscillations manifest themselves at the solar surface as swirling motions with speeds on the order of 5 kilometers per hour. These motions were measured by analyzing 10 years of observations from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) [above]. Using computer models, the scientists have shown that the newly discovered oscillations are resonant modes and owe their existence to the Sun’s differential rotation. The oscillations will help establish novel ways to probe the Sun’s interior and obtain information about our star’s inner structure and dynamics. The scientists describe their findings in a letter to appear today in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.


    Solar inertial mode (high-latitude, Movie 1)
    The north-south velocity associated with the retrograde propagation of the m=3 equatorial Rossby mode of oscillation (-269 nHz in the Carrington frame of reference). Left: observations using the SDO/HMI instrument. Right: numerical model. The sound in the video is generated by shifting the wave frequency into the audible range.
    High-latitude inertial mode
    The east-west velocity associated with the retrograde propagating mode of oscillation. Left: observations using the SDO/HMI instrument. Right: numerical model. Sound: filtered data (86 ± 10 nHz) shifted to the audible spectrum; the sound variations inform us about the excitation and damping of the mode.

    In the 1960’s the Sun’s high musical notes were discovered: The Sun rings like a bell. Millions of modes of acoustic oscillations with short periods, near 5 minutes, are excited by convective turbulence near the solar surface and are trapped in the solar interior. These 5-minute oscillations have been observed continuously by ground-based telescopes and space observatories since the mid 1990’s and have been used very successfully by helioseismologists to learn about the internal structure and dynamics of our star – just like seismologists learn about the interior of the Earth by studying earthquakes. One of the triumphs of helioseismology is to have mapped the Sun’s rotation as a function of depth and latitude (the solar differential rotation).

    In addition to the 5-minute oscillations much longer-period oscillations were predicted to exist in stars more than 40 years ago but had not been identified on the Sun until now. “The long-period oscillations depend on the Sun’s rotation; they are not acoustic in nature”, says Laurent Gizon, lead author of the new study and director at the MPS. “Detecting the long-period oscillations of the Sun requires measurements of the horizontal motions at the Sun’s surface over many years. The continuous observations from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) onboard SDO are perfect for this purpose.”


    Solar inertial mode (critical-latitude, Movie 2)
    The east-west velocity associated with the retrograde propagation of the m=2 critical-latitude mode of oscillation (-73 nHz in the Carrington frame of reference). Left: observations using the SDO/HMI instrument. Right: numerical model. The sound in the video is generated by shifting the wave frequency into the audible range.
    Critical-latitude inertial mode
    The east-west velocity associated with the retrograde propagating mode of oscillation. Left: observations using the SDO/HMI instrument. Right: numerical model. Sound: filtered data (73 ± 10 nHz) shifted to the audible spectrum; the sound variations inform us about the excitation and damping of the mode.

    The team observed many tens of modes of oscillation, each with its own oscillation period and spatial dependence. Some modes of oscillation have maximum velocity at the poles (movie 1), some at mid-latitudes (movie 2), and some near the equator (movie 3). The modes with maximum velocity near the equator are Rossby modes, which the team had already identified in 2018. “The long-period oscillations manifest themselves as very slow swirling motions at the surface of the Sun with speeds of about 5 kilometers per hour – about how fast a person walks”, says Zhi-Chao Liang from MPS. Kiran Jain from NSO, together with B. Lekshmi and Bastian Proxauf from MPS, confirmed the results with data from the Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG), a network of six solar observatories in the USA, Australia, India, Spain, and Chile.

    3
    From Global Oscillation Network Group (GONG)

    To identify the nature of these oscillations, the team compared the observational data to computer models. “The models allow us to look inside the Sun’s interior and determine the full three-dimensional structure of the oscillations”, explains MPS graduate student Yuto Bekki. To obtain the model oscillations, the team began with a model of the Sun’s structure and differential rotation inferred from helioseismology. In addition, the strength of the convective driving in the upper layers, and the amplitude of turbulent motions are accounted for in the model. The free oscillations of the model are found by considering small-amplitude perturbations to the solar model. The corresponding velocities at the surface are a good match to the observed oscillations and enabled the team to identify the modes (see movies).


    Solar inertial mode (Rossby mode, Movie 3)
    The north-south velocity associated with the retrograde propagation of the m=3 equatorial Rossby mode of oscillation (-269 nHz in the Carrington frame of reference). Left: observations using the SDO/HMI instrument. Right: numerical model. The sound in the video is generated by shifting the wave frequency into the audible range.
    Equatorial Rossby mode
    The north-south velocity associated with the retrograde propagating mode of oscillation. Left: observations using the SDO/HMI instrument. Right: numerical model. Sound: filtered data (269 ± 10 nHz) shifted to the audible spectrum; the sound variations inform us about the excitation and damping of the mode.

    “All of these new oscillations we observe on the Sun are strongly affected by the Sun’s differential rotation”, says MPS scientist Damien Fournier. The dependence of the solar rotation with latitude determines where the modes have maximum amplitudes. “The oscillations are also sensitive to properties of the Sun’s interior: in particular to the strength of the turbulent motions and the related viscosity of the solar medium as well as to the strength of the convective driving” says Robert Cameron from MPS. This sensitivity is strong at the base of the convection zone, about two hundred thousand kilometers beneath the solar surface. “Just like we are using acoustic oscillations to learn about the sound speed in the solar interior with helioseismology, we can use the long-period oscillations to learn about the turbulent processes”, he adds.

    “The discovery of a new type of solar oscillations is very exciting because it allows us to infer properties, such as the strength of the convective driving, which ultimately control the solar dynamo”, says Laurent Gizon. The diagnostic potential of the long-period modes will be fully realized in the coming years using a new exascale computer model being developed as part of the project WHOLESUN, supported by a European Research Council 2018 Synergy Grant.

    See the full article here.

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    The MPG Institute for Solar System Research [MPG Institut für Sonnensystemforschung] (DE) has had an eventful history – with several moves, changes of name, and structural developments. The first prototype of the current institute was founded in 1934 in Mecklenburg; it moved to Katlenburg-Lindau in 1946. Not just the location of the buildings changed – the topic of research also moved, from Earth to outer space. In the first decades the focus of research was the stratosphere and ionosphere of the Earth, but since 1997 the institute exclusively researches the physics of planets and the Sun. In January 2014 the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research has relocated to it’s new home: a new building in Göttingen close to the Northern Campus of the University of Göttingen [Georg-August-Universität Göttingen] (DE).

    MPG Institute for the Advancement of Science [MPG zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e. V](DE) is Germany’s most successful research organization. Since its establishment in 1948, no fewer than 18 Nobel laureates have emerged from the ranks of its scientists, putting it on a par with the best and most prestigious research institutions worldwide. The more than 15,000 publications each year in internationally renowned scientific journals are proof of the outstanding research work conducted at MPG Institutes – and many of those articles are among the most-cited publications in the relevant field.

    What is the basis of this success? The scientific attractiveness of the MPG Society is based on its understanding of research: MPG institutes are built up solely around the world’s leading researchers. They themselves define their research subjects and are given the best working conditions, as well as free reign in selecting their staff. This is the core of the Harnack principle, which dates back to Adolph von Harnack, the first president of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, which was established in 1911. This principle has been successfully applied for nearly one hundred years. The MPG Society continues the tradition of its predecessor institution with this structural principle of the person-centered research organization.

    The currently 83 MPG Institutes and facilities conduct basic research in the service of the general public in the natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. MPG Institutes focus on research fields that are particularly innovative, or that are especially demanding in terms of funding or time requirements. And their research spectrum is continually evolving: new institutes are established to find answers to seminal, forward-looking scientific questions, while others are closed when, for example, their research field has been widely established at universities. This continuous renewal preserves the scope the Max Planck Society needs to react quickly to pioneering scientific developments.

    MPG Society for the Advancement of Science [MPG Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften e. V.] is a formally independent non-governmental and non-profit association of German research institutes founded in 1911 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society and renamed the MPG Society in 1948 in honor of its former president, theoretical physicist Max Planck. The society is funded by the federal and state governments of Germany as well as other sources.

    According to its primary goal, the MPG Society supports fundamental research in the natural, life and social sciences, the arts and humanities in its 83 (as of January 2014) MPG institutes. The society has a total staff of approximately 17,000 permanent employees, including 5,470 scientists, plus around 4,600 non-tenured scientists and guests. Society budget for 2015 was about €1.7 billion.

    The MPG Institutes focus on excellence in research. The MPG Society has a world-leading reputation as a science and technology research organization, with 33 Nobel Prizes awarded to their scientists, and is generally regarded as the foremost basic research organization in Europe and the world. In 2013, the Nature Publishing Index placed the MPG institutes fifth worldwide in terms of research published in Nature journals (after Harvard University (US), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US), Stanford University (US) and the National Institutes of Health (US)). In terms of total research volume (unweighted by citations or impact), the MPG Society is only outranked by the Chinese Academy of Sciences [中国科学院] (CN), the Russian Academy of Sciences [Росси́йская акаде́мия нау́к](RU) and Harvard University. The Thomson Reuters-Science Watch website placed the Max Planck Society as the second leading research organization worldwide following Harvard University, in terms of the impact of the produced research over science fields.

    [The blog owner wishes to editorialize: I do not think all of this boasting is warranted when the combined forces of the MPG Society are being weighed against individual universities and institutions. It is not the combined forces of the cited schools and institutions, that could make some sense. No, it is each separate institution standing on its own.]

    The MPG Society and its predecessor Kaiser Wilhelm Society hosted several renowned scientists in their fields, including Otto Hahn, Werner Heisenberg, and Albert Einstein.

    History

    The organization was established in 1911 as the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, or Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft (KWG), a non-governmental research organization named for the then German emperor. The KWG was one of the world’s leading research organizations; its board of directors included scientists like Walther Bothe, Peter Debye, Albert Einstein, and Fritz Haber. In 1946, Otto Hahn assumed the position of President of KWG, and in 1948, the society was renamed the MPG Society after its former President (1930–37) Max Planck, who died in 1947.

    The MPG Society has a world-leading reputation as a science and technology research organization. In 2006, the Times Higher Education Supplement rankings of non-university research institutions (based on international peer review by academics) placed the MPG Society as No.1 in the world for science research, and No.3 in technology research (behind AT&T Corporation and the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory (US).

    The domain mpg.de attracted at least 1.7 million visitors annually by 2008 according to a Compete.com study.

    MPG Institutes and research groups

    The MPG Society consists of over 80 research institutes. In addition, the society funds a number of MPG Research Groups (MPRG) and International MPG Research Schools (IMPRS). The purpose of establishing independent research groups at various universities is to strengthen the required networking between universities and institutes of the MPG Society.

    The research units are primarily located across Europe with a few in South Korea and the U.S. In 2007, the Society established its first non-European centre, with an institute on the Jupiter campus of Florida Atlantic University (US) focusing on neuroscience.

    The MPG Institutes operate independently from, though in close cooperation with, the universities, and focus on innovative research which does not fit into the university structure due to their interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary nature or which require resources that cannot be met by the state universities.

    Internally, MPG Institutes are organized into research departments headed by directors such that each MPG institute has several directors, a position roughly comparable to anything from full professor to department head at a university. Other core members include Junior and Senior Research Fellows.

    In addition, there are several associated institutes:

    International Max Planck Research Schools
    Together with the Association of Universities and other Education Institutions in Germany, the MPG Society established numerous International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) to promote junior scientists:

    Cologne Graduate School of Ageing Research, Cologne
    International Max Planck Research School for Intelligent Systems, at the MPG Institute for Intelligent Systems (DE) located in Tübingen and Stuttgart
    International Max Planck Research School on Adapting Behavior in a Fundamentally Uncertain World (Uncertainty School), at the Max Planck Institutes for Economics, for Human Development, and/or Research on Collective Goods
    International Max Planck Research School for Analysis, Design and Optimization in Chemical and Biochemical Process Engineering, Magdeburg
    International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy and Cosmic Physics, Heidelberg at the MPG for Astronomy
    International Max Planck Research School for Astrophysics, Garching at the MPG Institute for Astrophysics
    International Max Planck Research School for Complex Surfaces in Material Sciences, Berlin
    International Max Planck Research School for Computer Science, Saarbrücken
    International Max Planck Research School for Earth System Modeling, Hamburg
    International Max Planck Research School for Elementary Particle Physics, Munich, at the MPG Institute for Physics
    International Max Planck Research School for Environmental, Cellular and Molecular Microbiology, Marburg at the MPG Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology
    International Max Planck Research School for Evolutionary Biology, Plön at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology
    International Max Planck Research School “From Molecules to Organisms”, Tübingen at the MPG Institute for Developmental Biology
    International Max Planck Research School for Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Jena at the Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
    International Max Planck Research School on Gravitational Wave Astronomy, Hannover and Potsdam MPG Institute for Gravitational Physics
    International Max Planck Research School for Heart and Lung Research, Bad Nauheim at the MPG Institute for Heart and Lung Research
    International Max Planck Research School for Infectious Diseases and Immunity, Berlin at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology
    International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, Nijmegen
    International Max Planck Research School for Neurosciences, Göttingen
    International Max Planck Research School for Cognitive and Systems Neuroscience, Tübingen
    International Max Planck Research School for Marine Microbiology (MarMic), joint program of the MPG Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen, the University of Bremen [Universität Bremen](DE), the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Bremerhaven, and the Jacobs University Bremen [Jacobs Universität Bremen] (DE)
    International Max Planck Research School for Maritime Affairs, Hamburg
    International Max Planck Research School for Molecular and Cellular Biology, Freiburg
    International Max Planck Research School for Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences, Munich
    International Max Planck Research School for Molecular Biology, Göttingen
    International Max Planck Research School for Molecular Cell Biology and Bioengineering, Dresden
    International Max Planck Research School Molecular Biomedicine, program combined with the ‘Graduate Programm Cell Dynamics And Disease’ at the University of Münster [Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster] (DE) and the MPG Institute for Molecular Biomedicine (DE)
    International Max Planck Research School on Multiscale Bio-Systems, Potsdam
    International Max Planck Research School for Organismal Biology, at the University of Konstanz [Universität Konstanz] (DE) and the MPG Institute for Ornithology (DE)
    International Max Planck Research School on Reactive Structure Analysis for Chemical Reactions (IMPRS RECHARGE), Mülheim an der Ruhr, at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Energy Conversion (DE)
    International Max Planck Research School for Science and Technology of Nano-Systems, Halle at MPG Institute of Microstructure Physics (DE)
    International Max Planck Research School for Solar System Science at the University of Göttingen – Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (DE) hosted by MPG Institute for Solar System Research [Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung] (DE)
    International Max Planck Research School for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Bonn, at the MPG Institute for Radio Astronomy [MPG Institut für Radioastronomie](DE) (formerly the International Max Planck Research School for Radio and Infrared Astronomy)
    International Max Planck Research School for the Social and Political Constitution of the Economy, Cologne
    International Max Planck Research School for Surface and Interface Engineering in Advanced Materials, Düsseldorf at MPG Institute for Iron Research [MPG Institut für Eisenforschung] (DE)
    International Max Planck Research School for Ultrafast Imaging and Structural Dynamics, Hamburg

     
  • richardmitnick 10:06 am on July 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The Sun Just Spat Out an X-Class Flare- The Most Powerful Since 2017", , Solar research   

    From Science Alert (US) : “The Sun Just Spat Out an X-Class Flare- The Most Powerful Since 2017” 

    ScienceAlert

    From Science Alert (US)

    6 JULY 2021
    MICHELLE STARR

    The Sun appears to be waking up from the quiet period of its 11-year cycle.

    On 3 July 2021, at 14:29 UTC (10:29 EDT), our wild star spat out its first X-class flare of Solar Cycle 25; it was the most powerful flare we’ve seen since September 2017.

    X-class flares are among the most powerful solar eruptions from our host star, with the mightiest on record being an astonishing X28 in November 2003.

    This new flare wasn’t quite so intense, clocking in at X1.5 – but, even so, it produced a pulse of X-rays that hit the upper atmosphere and managed to cause a shortwave radio blackout over the Atlantic Ocean.

    The most recent X-class flare, prior to this new one, took place in September 2017, when the Sun erupted in an X8.2 flare.

    It’s a sign, along with an increase in coronal loops of plasma arcing up from the Sun’s surface, that the cycle is definitely becoming more active.

    Although the Sun seems pretty consistent from our day-to-day perspective here on Earth, a long-term view reveals dynamic activity. Part of that is the solar cycle.

    This is based on the Sun’s magnetic field, which flips around every 11 years, north and south magnetic poles switching places. It’s not known what drives these cycles (recent research suggests it has to do with an 11.07-year planetary alignment), but the poles switch when the magnetic field is at its weakest, also known as the solar minimum.

    Because the Sun’s magnetic field controls its activity – sunspots (temporary regions of strong magnetic fields), solar flares, and coronal mass ejections (produced by magnetic field lines snapping and reconnecting) – this stage of the cycle manifests as a period of minimal activity.

    Once the poles have switched, the magnetic field strengthens, and solar activity rises to a solar maximum before subsiding for the next polar switch. The most recent solar minimum took place in December 2019, so, over the coming months and years, we should expect to see the Sun getting more rowdy, peaking at maximum in around July 2025.

    Not all solar maxima are created equal, so it’s not entirely clear whether we will have a weak or powerful cycle. The average sunspot count for a maximum is 179; Solar Cycle 24 peaked at only 114. NASA and the NOAA have predicted Solar Cycle 25 will be similar, with a peak of 115 sunspots, but other scientists have predicted quite the opposite – one of the strongest solar maxima ever recorded.

    Interestingly, it took nearly twice as long for the first X-class flare to appear in Solar Cycle 24. If that is significant, we won’t know until after the solar maximum for Solar Cycle 25.

    So what does this mean for Earth? Well, if a solar flare or coronal mass ejection blasts out in the direction of Earth, we can see a few effects. There’s no danger from radiation to us humans scrambling about on the surface – our atmosphere protects us.

    But for more powerful flares – like the one of 3 July – and weaker, M-class flares, we can see some disruptions to the atmospheric layers where communications signals travel. This means radio communications and navigation systems can be affected. For the most extreme events, power grids may be knocked offline, although that happens incredibly rarely.

    Material from the Sun can also trigger auroras here on Earth, as particles interact with gases in our planet’s atmosphere to produce the glowing phenomenon.

    The sunspot that produced the flare, named 2838, developed overnight out of nowhere, and was also responsible for an M2 flare. It has since rotated away out of view to the far side of the Sun, where it may still be active. We’ll have to wait a few days to see if it rotates back.

    See the full article here .


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  • richardmitnick 8:30 pm on July 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Holes in the Solar Atmosphere- Artificial Intelligence Spots Coronal Holes to Automate Space Weather Predictions", , More reliable space weather predictions and valuable information for the study of the solar activity cycle., One of the prominent features of the sun are extended dark regions called coronal holes., Our electronic “life” depends on the activity of our closest star and its interactions with Earth’s magnetic field., Plasma particles can escape along the magnetic field from the solar surface into interplanetary space leaving a "hole" in the corona., Reliably detecting coronal holes from space-based observations., , , Solar research, The appearance and location of these "holes" on the Sun varies in dependence of the solar activity., The authors trained their model with about 1700 images in the 2010-2017 time range and showed that the method is consistent for all solar activity levels., The outer solar atmosphere-the solar corona-is constantly being monitored by satellite-based telescopes., The scientists describe a convolutional neural network called CHRONNOS (Coronal Hole RecOgnition Neural Network Over multi-Spectral-data) that they developed to detect coronal holes., The Sun is very active frequently showing eruptions and causing geomagnetic storms on Earth.   

    From Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology [Сколковский институт науки и технологий] (RU) via SciTechDaily : “Holes in the Solar Atmosphere- Artificial Intelligence Spots Coronal Holes to Automate Space Weather Predictions” 

    From Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology [Сколковский институт науки и технологий] (RU)

    via

    SciTechDaily

    July 2, 2021

    1
    Observation of the solar dynamic observatory (SDO). The image shows a composite of the seven different extreme-ultraviolet filters (colored slices) and the magnetic field information (gray scale slice). The detected coronal holes are indicated by red contour lines. The dark structure at the center is a solar filament that shows a similar appearance but is not associated to coronal holes. Credit: Jarolim et. al., 2021.

    Scientists from the University of Graz [Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz] (AT), Skoltech and their colleagues from the US and Germany have developed a new neural network that can reliably detect coronal holes from space-based observations. This application paves the way for more reliable space weather predictions and provides valuable information for the study of the solar activity cycle. The paper was published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    Much like our life on Earth depends on the light of the Sun, our electronic “life” depends on the activity of our closest star and its interactions with Earth’s magnetic field.

    For the human eye, the Sun appears almost constant, but the Sun is very active frequently showing eruptions and causing geomagnetic storms on Earth.

    For this reason, the outer solar atmosphere-the solar corona-is constantly being monitored by satellite-based telescopes.

    In these observations, one of the prominent features are extended dark regions called coronal holes. They appear dark because plasma particles can escape along the magnetic field from the solar surface into interplanetary space leaving a ‘hole’ in the corona. The escaping particles form high-speed solar wind streams that can eventually hit Earth, causing geomagnetic storms.

    The appearance and location of these holes on the Sun varies in dependence of the solar activity, giving us also important information on the long-term evolution of the Sun.

    “The detection of coronal holes is a difficult task for conventional algorithms and is also challenging for human observers, because there are also other dark regions in the solar atmosphere, like filaments, that can be easily confused with a coronal hole,” says Robert Jarolim, a research scientist at the University of Graz and the lead author of the study.

    In their paper, the authors describe a convolutional neural network called CHRONNOS (Coronal Hole RecOgnition Neural Network Over multi-Spectral-data) that they developed to detect coronal holes. “Artificial intelligence allows us to identify coronal holes based on their intensity, shape, and magnetic field properties, which are the same criteria as a human observer takes into account,” Jarolim says.

    “The solar atmosphere appears very different when observed at different wavelengths. We used images recorded at different extreme ultraviolet (EUV) wavelengths along with magnetic field maps as input to our neural network, which enables the network to find relations in the multi-channel representation,” Astrid Veronig, professor at the University of Graz and co-author of the publication, adds.


    Multi-channel coronal hole detection with convolutional neural networks – CHRONNOS.
    Animated version of the detected coronal holes over almost 11 years. The identified coronal holes are indicated by red contour lines. The Sun changes over the solar cycle and reaches its maximum activity in 2014. Credit: from Jarolim et. al., 2021.

    The authors trained their model with about 1700 images in the 2010-2017 time range and showed that the method is consistent for all solar activity levels. The neural network was evaluated by comparing the results to 261 manually identified coronal holes, matching human labels in 98% of the cases. In addition, the authors examined the detection of coronal holes based on magnetic field maps, that appear vastly different than EUV observations. For a human, the coronal holes cannot be identified from these images alone, but the AI learned to perceive the images differently and was able to identify coronal holes.

    “This is a promising result for future ground-based coronal hole detection, where we cannot directly observe coronal holes as dark regions as in space-based extreme ultraviolet and soft X-ray observations, but where the solar magnetic field is measured on a regular basis,” says Tatiana Podladchikova, assistant professor at the Skoltech Space Center and a co-author of the paper.

    “And whatever storms may rage, we wish everyone a good weather in space,” concluded Podladchikova.

    UniGraz and Skoltech represent Austria and Russia in the SOLARNET consortium of 35 international partners. Other institutions involved in this research include Columbia University (USA), MPG Institute for Solar System Research [Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung](DE) and NorthWest Research Associates (USA).

    See the full article here.

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    Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology [Сколковский институт науки и технологий] (RU) is a private institute located in Moscow, Russia. Skoltech was established in 2011 as part of a multi-year partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US).

    As an academic institution, Skoltech primary mission is academic excellence in target domains. This includes performing cutting-edge basic and applied research and educating next generation of science, technology and business leaders.

    Also, as a leading academic institution, Skoltech generates value in a form of professional education, advisory services, industry-funded research and results implementation, services of shared facilities, technology licensing and new companies established by the Institute’s scholars, engineers, students and alumni. Therefore, Skoltech reinforces Russia’s technology excellence in target domains and bridges the gap between research and industry.

    Skoltech forms a part of the Skolkovo community which creates a new, self-sustaining innovation ecosystem providing an engine for Russian high-tech industry and attracting foreign investments. In this paradigm, Skoltech acts as a catalyst to foster cutting-edge research in advanced areas of crucial importance for Russia, promote entrepreneurial activity and train internationally competitive specialists capable of working in a rapidly changing research and technology landscape.

     
  • richardmitnick 8:10 pm on June 16, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Total Solar Eclipses Shine a Light on the Solar Wind with Help from NASA’s ACE Mission", , , Solar research, Special filters enable scientists to measure different temperatures in the corona during total solar eclipses., The researchers used light emitted by two common types of charged iron particles in the corona to determine the temperature of the material there.   

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US) : “Total Solar Eclipses Shine a Light on the Solar Wind with Help from NASA’s ACE Mission” 

    NASA Goddard Banner

    From NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (US)

    Jun 15, 2021

    Mara Johnson-Groh
    mjohnson-groh@sesda.com
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

    1
    Special filters enable scientists to measure different temperatures in the corona during total solar eclipses, such as this one seen in Mitchell, Oregon, on August 21, 2017. The red light is emitted by charged iron particles at 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit and the green are those at 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit.
    Credits: Image produced by M. Druckmuller and published in Habbal et al. 2021.

    More Than Just Pretty Pictures

    Scientists have used total solar eclipses for over a century to learn more about our universe, including deciphering the Sun’s structure and explosive events, finding evidence for the theory of general relativity, and even discovering a new element – helium. While instruments called coronagraphs are able to mimic eclipses, they’re not good enough to access the full extent of the corona that is revealed during a total solar eclipse. Instead, astronomers must travel to far-flung regions of the Earth to observe the corona during eclipses, which occur about every 12 to 18 months and only last a few minutes.

    Through travels to Australia, Libya, Mongolia, Oregon, and beyond, the team gathered 14 years of high-resolution total solar eclipse images from around the world. They captured the eclipses using cameras equipped with specialized filters to help them measure the temperatures of the particles from the innermost part of the corona, the sources of the solar wind.

    The researchers used light emitted by two common types of charged iron particles in the corona to determine the temperature of the material there. The results unexpectedly showed that the amount of the cooler particles – which were more abundant and found to contribute most of the solar wind material – were surprisingly consistent at different times during the solar cycle. The sparse hotter material varied much more with the solar cycle while the solar wind speed varied from 185 to 435 miles per second.

    “That means that whatever is heating the majority of the corona and solar wind is not very dependent on the Sun’s activity cycle,” said Benjamin Boe, a solar researcher at the University of Hawai’i (US) involved in the new research.

    The finding is surprising as it suggests that while the majority of solar wind is originating from sources that have a roughly constant temperature, it may have wildly different speeds. “So now the question is, what processes keep the temperature of the sources of the solar wind at a constant value?” Habbal said.

    The Dynamic Sun

    The team also compared the eclipse data with measurements taken from NASA’s Advanced Composition Explorer, or ACE, spacecraft, which sits in space 1 million miles away from Earth in the direction of the Sun and was also essential in revealing the properties of the dynamic component of the solar wind.

    The variable speeds of the dynamic wind were distinguished by the variability of the iron charge states associated with them. The spacecraft data showed that the speeds of the particles seen in the variable solar wind changed in relationship to the iron charge states associated with them. The high temperature sheaths around events called prominences, discovered from eclipse observations, were found to be responsible for the dynamic wind and the occasional coronal mass ejection – a large cloud of solar plasma and embedded magnetic fields released into space after a solar eruption.

    While the team doesn’t know why the sources of the solar wind are at the same temperature, they think the speeds vary depending on the density of the region they originated from, which itself is determined by the underlying magnetic field. Fast-flying particles come from low-density regions, and slower ones from high-density regions. This is likely because the energy is distributed between all the particles in a region. So in areas where there are fewer particles, there’s more energy for each individual particle. This is similar to splitting a birthday cake – if there are fewer people, there’s more cake for each person.

    The new findings provide new insights into the properties of the solar wind, which is a key component of space weather that can impact space-based communication satellites and astronomical observing platforms. The team plans to continue traveling the globe to observe total solar eclipses. They hope their efforts may eventually shed a new light on the longstanding solar mystery: how the corona reaches a temperature of a million degrees, far hotter than the solar surface.

    Science paper:
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters

    See the full article here.


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


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    NASA/Goddard Campus

    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD (US) is home to the nation’s largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.

    Named for American rocketry pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard, the center was established in 1959 as NASA’s first space flight complex. Goddard and its several facilities are critical in carrying out NASA’s missions of space exploration and scientific discovery.

    GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the NASA Deep Space Network(US) and the Near Earth Network); develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(US) .

    GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope; the Explorers Program; the Discovery Program; the Earth Observing System; INTEGRAL; MAVEN; OSIRIS-REx; the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory ; the Solar Dynamics Observatory; Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System ; Fermi; and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned Earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC, while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California(US).

    Goddard is one of four centers built by NASA since its founding on July 29, 1958. It is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication; planning; scientific research; technical operations; and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

    Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, MD was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

    Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

    The Goddard network tracked many early manned and unmanned spacecraft.

    Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

    Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System. The center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

     
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