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Friday, August 19, 2005



Scientists Predicting Space Weather


[Media Source*]

(Universe Today) When astronauts will be spending more time in space, it'll be helpful to know when there'll be clear "space weather", to minimize their exposure to dangerous amounts of radiation. NASA scientists have developed a better understanding of the underlying causes of solar flares, and think they can now predict times for "clear skies".

One of the greatest hurdles against traveling in space may have just about been "leapt." Solar flares have been a huge obstacle for future astronauts traveling beyond Earth's orbit. Unlike the space station, (as well as future lunar colonists) astronauts traveling enroute towards another solar body would be unable to find protection aboard their star craft if a solar flare occurred. But it seems as if NASA has enabled a possible way for mankind to leave it's "earthen cradle."


Insight into the causes of the largest solar flares came in two steps. "First, we discovered characteristic patterns of magnetic field evolution associated with strong electrical currents in the solar atmosphere," said ATC's Dr. Marc DeRosa, co-author of the paper. "It is these strong electrical currents that drive solar flares."

Subsequently, the authors discovered the regions most likely to flare had new magnetic fields merge into them that were clearly out of alignment with the existing field. This emerging field from the solar interior appears to induce even more current as it interacts with the existing field.

If NASA is able to forecast space weather patterns, then they may not only be able to warn astronauts in space of the "sun's wrath," but also residents on Earth. Solar flares can cause damage to satellites, interrupt short wave radios and interfere with navigation systems. Although not yet perfected, solar flare forecasting will not only save millions of dollars in repairs for satellites as well as many lives, but also allow mankind to finally colonize the solar system and perhaps the universe as well.



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By Darnell Clayton • 10:59 PM • Email Post • •

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