NASA Has Money To Burn

Hmm, I wonder why Obama hasn’t canceled this yet? He’s pretty much stripped the rest of NASA bare.

Solar Probe Plus to ‘touch, taste, smell’ sun on $180m NASA mission

NASA has outlined details of its mission to send a probe deep into the sun’s atmosphere.

Set to launch by 2018, the Solar Probe Plus will be protected by a carbon-composite heat shield that can withstand temperatures up to 1400C.

About the size of a small car, the probe will get within 6.5 million kilometres of the sun’s surface.

“For the very first time, we’ll be able to touch, taste and smell our sun,” Lika Guhathakurta, Solar Probe Plus program scientist at NASA headquarters, said.

Last year, NASA invited scientists to submit proposals regarding exactly what the probe should do once it gets there.

According to Dick Fisher, director of NASA’s Heliophysics Division in Washington, of the 13 proposals reviewed by NASA, five were chosen “specifically designed to solve two key questions of solar physics – why is the sun’s outer atmosphere so much hotter than the sun’s visible surface and what propels the solar wind that affects Earth and our solar system? ”

. . .

NASA has budgeted $US180 million for the mission, but claims the unprecedented analysis will enable it to better understand the sun and improve its ability to predict the severity of solar storms.

See also:
Spacecraft to Fly Into the Sun
NASA Wants to Plunge a Probe Into the Sun
Solar Probe Plus To Plunge Directly Into Sun’s Atmosphere
Solar Probe Plus instruments will brave the sun’s wrath
NASA readies probe for up-close study of sun’s corona
NASA To Launch Spacecraft Into the Sun
SwRI energetic particle instruments selected for Solar Probe Plus mission
Solar Probe Plus: A NASA Mission to Touch the Sun

/so, is it hot enough for you?

The Sun Is Angry

Don’t forget to duck.

Huge blasts of sun’s plasma hurtling toward Earth

A huge mass of magnetically charged material ejected from the sun is racing across space toward our planet, where it is expected to arrive on Tuesday. When it strikes the Earth’s magnetic field, it could produce spectacular auroras.

A blast of violent space weather could hit the Earth tomorrow following two massive explosions on the Sun. NASA astronomers witnessed a huge flare above a giant sunspot the size of our planet and linked to an even larger eruption across the surface of Sun.

Experts estimate a wave of supercharged gas called plasma will reach us this Tuesday when it will buffet the natural magnetic shield protecting Earth. It could trigger spectacular displays of the aurora or northern and southern lights.

The solar outbursts on Sunday August 1 were recorded by several satellites including NASA’s new Solar Dynamics Observatory which watched its shockwave rippling outwards. The flare over the sunspot was swiftly followed by an eruption 250,000 miles (400,000 km) away in a feature called a filament.

UK solar expert Dr Lucie Green, of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, in Surrey, followed the flare-ups using Japan’s orbiting Hinode telescope.

She said last night: “What wonderful fireworks the Sun has been producing! This was a very rare event – not one, but two almost simultaneous eruptions from different locations on the sun were launched toward the Earth.

“These eruptions occur when immense magnetic structures in the solar atmosphere lose their stability and can no longer be held down by the sun’s huge gravitational pull. Just like a coiled spring suddenly being released, they erupt into space.

“It looks like the first eruption was so large that it changed the magnetic fields throughout half the Sun’s visible atmosphere and provided the right conditions for the second eruption. Both eruptions could be Earth-directed but may be travelling at different speeds. This means we have a very good chance of seeing major and prolonged effects, such as the northern lights at low latitudes.”

. . .

Scientists have warned that a really big solar eruption, like the Carrington Event witnessed from Surrey in 1859, could destroy satellites and wreck power and around the globe if it happened today.

Such an event would be the biggest disaster ever to hit mankind, preventing the production of essential supplies including food, water and medicines. Other eruptions have been observed directed towards us but thankfully less severe.

See also:
Coronal Mass Ejection Headed for Earth
Here comes the sun storm
Large solar storm headed our way
Solar plasma aurora storm to hit Earth tomorrow!
Solar Tsunami to Strike Earth Tonight
Solar light show expected tonight
Northern lights may shine in local skies
Solar blast may fire up Northern Lights
Northern lights could be visible from UK as Sun’s ‘solar tsunami’ sweeps towards Earth
Sun storms may bring northern lights farther south
Coronal Mass Ejection on Sun, Effects Can Be Seen in New England

So, enjoy the light show if it’s visible where you’re at and let’s hope we don’t suffer any fried satellites.

/eventually, the sun will destroy life on Earth and the Earth itself, but apparently not today